Beer: Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout
Brewer: Samuel Smith Old Brewery
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Description: Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout pours pitch black with a frothy light brown head that disappears rather quickly, but leaves a very heavy lacing on the glass. The aroma bursts with roasted malt character that gives way to subtle hints of dark baker’s chocolate and roasted coffee, with background notes of hops and dark fruits. The taste mirrors that aroma but is a bit more bitter than one would expect; the bitterness comes more from the chocolate flavors than from the hops. It hits first but does not last long before the silky smooth roasted malt character washes over the palate and gives way to hints of dark cherries and coffee, all blending perfectly with the chocolate. The seven percent ABV is very well-hidden and the medium body and mild carbonation of this Imperial Stout creates a very smooth and easy-drinking beer. The English characteristics of this imperial stout are what truly make this beer stand out among the rest of the imperialized stouts in the market today.
Food pairing: As with most imperial stouts, Samuel Smith’s pairs best with a wide variety of desserts, but this a stout that can hold its own with a much larger audience. Try pairing this beer with a delicious oyster dish; the play on salty and sweet combine for an experience you may never want to end. Also, despite the heavier appearance of chocolate in this stout, the English characteristics still make it a great pairing with traditional dishes such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. However, this beer is dead set on being paired with desserts, and there is no denying the fact that this truly is a fantastic dessert beer. For a wonderful experience, pair this imperial stout with creamier desserts such as cheesecake, truffles, or crème brûlée.
The final word: Samuel Smith is by far one of the best English breweries in existence today. They continually craft world-class beers, and this Imperial Stout is no exception. Some imperial stouts can be overwhelming to those uninitiated to the style; however, Samuel Smith’s take is extremely approachable, even if your only exposure to stouts has been Guinness. The subtle characteristics and complexity within the beer does not overwhelm the palate but instead is very inviting and will awaken the taste buds of the casual stout drinker and alert them to the whole world of incredible stouts that are available on the market to enjoy.
Rating: W W W W V
Where can I get it? Currently available in bottles at: Exit 190 Beer Deli, Dickson City; Backyard Ale House, Scranton; Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer, Wilkes-Barre.
Remember, enjoy responsibly! Cheers!
-Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour on 102.3 FM Saturdays at 10 a.m.