You know Samuel Smith's is one of my all-time favorite breweries, but I've never actually had their Imperial Stout before (if you can believe that). So I called in an expert to help me review this classic British beer - Rob Derbyshire of http://youtube.com/hopzine Rob is one of the more underappreciated BeerTubers and one of only a small handful of BeerTubers from the UK. Be sure to watch the interview with Rob on my Chad9976 channel.
3.9AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 15/20
I poured a 12oz bottle into an English nonic pint glass.
Appearance: Dark black body with ruby red edges. Forms a large, dark khaki-colored head with whipped foamy textures. Retains well but doesn’t lace the glass.
Smell: Licorice and black cherry with a slight alcohol scent, although not very pungent overall.
Taste: This beer is would I would consider a "casual" imperial stout. Unlike the behemoth barrel-aged brews, or the flavored stout, Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout isn’t quite that big and dense. But at the same time, it’s not light and mild like any typical pub ale. This is what a good stout should be: quite sweet up front with a confectionary taste of black licorice, a hint of dark chocolate and a slightly bitter aftertaste of roasted malts and coffee. It’s sweet enough to be a delectable flavor, but nothing obnoxious. It does have a slightly sharp, borderline sour dairy edge on the finish, though. This is common in imperial stouts and not necessarily a flaw - just a bit of a bite.
Mouthfeel: Slightly fizzy at first, but soft and gentle throughout the second half. Only a medium-bodied beer all around, but a comfortable one to drink.
Drinkability: At 7% ABV, Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout doesn’t fit the definition of "sessionable" but it seems like it would. The palate is flavorful but not obnoxious, the mouthfeel is easy and the beer goes down extremely smooth. The alcohol is virtually invisible in the taste and weight of the beer. Perhaps it’d be fun to drink a few in a row, but the alcohol would likely spring up out of nowhere.
Overall, Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout is probably THE most drinker-friendly imperial stout on the market today.