A slight step above standard
A Review of Samuel Adams Imperial Stout by Boston Beer Co. / Samuel Adams
Posted on 12/20/2011 by Brew's Your Daddy
I might be going out on a bit of a limb here, but my guess is that if you are in your 30's or above, your first non-pisswater experience was with an offering from Samuel Adams. Relatively speaking, they were one of the first ones on the craft beer scene, and have since carved out a nice piece of the market pie for themselves. Boston Lager is by far their most recognizable, but their offerings have become quite numerous. Believe it or not, they even have an Imperial Series that includes their Imperial White, Double Bock, Wee Heavy, and what I am here to review for you today, their Imperial Stout.

When poured, the Samuel Adams Imperial Stout takes on a pitch black coloration that is unwilling to release any of its hold, even when held directly in front of a light source. A dark, tan head sits on top for a few minutes before receding to nothing more than a thin ring around the inner glass edge, leaving minimal lacing at best. No surprising aromas can be detected, but neither can any real nose grabbers. There are some basic coffee and cocoa powder smells here and there, along with a sweet licorice presence. And call me crazy, because I really don't mind, but there are even hints of sour cherries that pop up from time to time.

The first sip is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in the sense that when all else fails, you now know that there is a slightly above average imperial stout readily available at most grocery stores for those ''in a bind'' times. It is a curse in the sense that so much more should be expected from Samuel Adams. I mean, all of the typical flavors associated with a stout are there. Again, just as in the nose, they just seemed pretty generic to me. The cocoa powder is dominating, and at times can get a bit distracting. After allowing it to warm a little, the coffee comes through a bit more, but does nothing to really grab you. And in a very non-pleasurable way, the candy sweet licorice flavor comes through on the tail end, and causes a moments pause after every sip. That, along with a mouthfeel that is less than excusably thin for a stout, causes one to think that they have possibly gotten their hands on a boozy cola beer drink thing.

It pains me to say that one of the real trailblazers in the better beer movement comes up short here. Again, ten times out of ten, I would always say to drink any of the offerings from Samuel Adams over the standard pisswater offerings out there. Their Imperial Stout is no different. It is a widely available alternative to the mass produced crap on the shelves next to it. But in the better beer world, the Samuel Adams Imperial Stout sits just a step above standard as far as I'm concerned. There are a few good flavors floating around in it, but nothing mind blowing. The more experienced drinkers would find it as a let down when compared to other imperial stouts that are available with minimal search efforts. I wouldn't necessarily advise those still new to the game to steer clear of it. It is a good bridge beer, but keep in mind that it should be viewed in that manner. This is just a beer to get you started in the imperial stout style. So while I have to tip my cap to Samuel Adams for helping pave the way for the craft beer movement, I have to shake my head in a bit of disappointment at the same time. I truly expected more from them.

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Samuel Adams Imperial Stout by Boston Beer Co. / Samuel Adams
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