Review: Sprecher Russian Imperial Stout

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

Sprecher says:

“Once brewed in Britain for the Russian Czars, this tremendously rich and thick ale uses a profusion of burnt and caramel malts. A massive mouthful of dark roasted malt and coffee flavors finishes with hints of chocolate, caramel & licorice.”

Sprecher Russian Imperial StoutSpecher Russian Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout, 8.5% ABV

(Editors Note: This review and several of the ones that follow it are part of a stockpile of tasting notes that have been siting in our notebooks for months that we just haven’t had time to get to. Sure, some of these reviews may not be as timely as we had originally hoped but they are still – somewhat – deserving of a spot in the annals of GDB.)

Ryan: This is the third installment in what has become a gold mine of Sprecher limited release beers that I wandered in to and am finally getting around to telling you about. Previously, I wrote about the IPA2 and Maibock. This time around it’s the Russian Imperial Stout.

The Russian Imperial Stout may be one of my favorite styles of beer. It’s big, it’s bold – sometimes it’s boozy and other times more restrained. What I have found, more often than not though, is that the style can sometimes be a one or two note beer. Don’t get more wrong; I love bold coffee and dark chocolate flavors – but sometimes I need something more. Sprecher’s Russian Imperial Stout is most certainly more.

The Sprecher RIS pours pitch black and sports a massive, tan head. Robust aromas of roasted coffee, dark chocolate and black licorice steam from the glass. The coffee and chocolate were expected, but the black licorice was not. So far, I like where this is headed.

More black licorice leads the charge on your first sip followed by coffee, dark chocolate and a faint hoppiness before mellowing in to a creamy peanut butter finish. Further inspection reveals a piney hop profile with shades of wintergreen and mint. It’s…refreshing. Savor that for a moment before the beer comes full circle with a touch of black licorice and peanut brittle on the back end.

Wow. Just wow.

The abundant flavors kept my palate’s attention while the 8.5% ABV made this very drinkable without taking me out of commission for the night.

The search is over; I may have just found the perfect Russian Imperial Stout.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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