50 of the Best Barrel aged Imperial Stouts, Blind-Tasted and Ranked

Learn about how we rate & review beers with our BJCP blind panel here


The Bruery Black Tuesday Port (2017) (75)

Tart dark fruit, not much stout/roast character. The musty character carries through from the nose. Very sweet and very boozy, but the booze helps balance the sweetness. Finish is tannic.

The Bruery Black Tuesday Grand Reserve (86)

"Sharp oak-tannin and leather nose; pronounced ethanol burn. The sip is intensely alcohol-forward, with burnt sugar and dark caramel notes. Pervasive alcohol heat."

Central Waters Peruvian Morning (87)

Chocolate, slight vanilla, slight caramel, boozy warmth. Slight coffee. The finish comes across a bit thin, which leaves a lingering tannic astringency.”

Port Brewing Churchill's Finest Hour (88)

"Tightly focused bourbon nose—hefty spirits and a touch of licorice. Light body lets the roast and barrel push through, with acrid and astringent notes, tempered by a significant and unsupported sweetness."

Fifty West Brewing BBA Death Valley Shootout (88)

"Warm oak, orange peel, orange liqueur on the nose with dark roast malt. Milk-chocolate sip is loose, thin, disappearing quickly. An easier-to-drink approach."

Burial Beer Seasoned Skillet (89)

Semisweet bitter chocolate is the dominant character. An ashy roast note from the nose is still present and leaves a lingering tongue-smacking chalky feel. The finish is rich and not overly sweet, and the bourbon and wood character add a nice underlying warmth.

Abandoned Building Brewery Belladonna (89)

"Dark stone fruit, grape Pez, earthy vegetal undertone. The sip is dry but rich, sacrificing body for continued sipping. General chocolate notes but little roast. A touch out of focus, overly simplified."

Melvin Barrel-aged Ruckus (89)

Baking chocolate, tons of roast, and a bit of smoke. Nice lingering dark-fruit sweetness, accentuated with hints of port character from the barrel. Nice body, but it still finishes moderately dry with a pleasant fortified wine booziness.

12 West Brewing Sacrifices (90)

"Big chocolate nose, braced by spicy bourbon, raisin. The sip pushes sweeter, amplifying raisin and fig. Vanilla-caramel note lingers deep into the finish."

Elevation Beer Oil Man Imperial Stout (90)

"Wafty bourbon nose with a wide reach—wet dog, damp forest, toasted cinnamon, vanillin. The sip pushes prune and fig touches, with rich esters underpinning dark chocolate."

Lakefront Brewery Black Friday 2019 (90)

"Nose of black jellybeans and grape candy, with dark-chocolate and bourbon-barrel notes. The sip is abrupt but likeable."

2nd Shift Brewing Pinckney Bend BBA Liquid Spiritual Delight (90)

"Strong coconut-vanilla barrel in the nose; unmistakable bourbon. The sip is smooth, dark chocolate, waffle cone, mocha, with assuring bourbon heat and spice. Satisfying, yet slightly dulled by low carbonation."

Avery Brewing Night Warden (91)

"Leathery-brown malt nose with toasted whiskey barrel; caramel and vanilla touches. The sip is cool, thin, dark chocolate–forward. Barrel recedes as creamy, bitter chocolate emerges. Light for its intentions."

Crooked Run Brewing Virtue (91)

"Candied red-fruit nose with bubblegum, strawberry—unique, interesting. The sip brings it back to stout territory—soft red fruit, mild roast, firm caramel middle. Atypical, offbeat, but engaging."

10 Torr Brewing Menacing Vibrations (91)

"Coffee-chocolate nose and a whiff of decomposing leaves. The sip is brighter—a slightly sweet highlight fades into cocoa powder and drip coffee. Rides the line between pedestrian and accessible."

DESTIHL Brewery Dosvidanya Rye (91)

"Nose is hulking but tenuous—a Richard Serra sculpture that could crash down any minute. The sip brings charred-oak bourbon bracing bitter dark chocolate, smoothed by vanilla-caramel patina. Singular, uncompromising."

Westbound & Down BA Western Justice (92)

"Soft licorice nose. Sip starts light, sweet, and mocha, finishing with brusquely bitter roast tempered by caramelized sugar."

Moksa Brewing Grasp of Oak (93)

"A solid s’mores line runs through, with hazelnut, toasted grain, caramel, and marshmallow-vanilla nose. Finishes quickly and cleanly, with light roast clearing the palate."

Avery Raspberry Truffale (93)

Very sweet up front. Chocolate, caramel, and dark-fruit sweetness. The finish is medium sweet, but not cloying. A touch of bourbon corn richness. Some nice vanilla notes from the barrel on the finish.

Ex Novo Brewing Kill the Sun (93)

"Overripe dark fruit on the nose with a hit of baking spice and cocoa powder. The sip continues the fruity display, with apple and dark cherry pitched against a very bitter black malt backdrop."

Beachwood BA System of a Stout (94)

Dark fruits, coffee, and chai dominate. Moderately strong sweetness leads into moderately strong bitterness that slowly fades. A fair amount of alcohol warmth helps to balance. Barrel character comes through nicely in the aftertaste. Complexity from the brandy, some light wood character with vanilla.”

Great Divide Brewing Barrel Aged Yeti (94)

"Fruity-citrus American hops nose bowls over lighter chocolate and roast. The sip is unassuming, light, "drinkable" despite style expectations. Minimal barrel. Smooth and integrated."

Amalgam Brewing Another Realm (94)

"Dark chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla, and coconut hints in the nose, pie crust. Thickly layered dark fruit—prune, fig, dried apple—brightened by citrus-zest twang."

Jackie O's Brewery BA Dark Apparition (94)

"Bold nose—balsamic reduction on charred figs, dark cherry, dark-roasted peanuts, with port and whiskey overtones. Silky sip of roast coffee, faint cherry, light hazelnut, and long-lingering dark-chocolate bitterness."

Station 26 Brewing Hell Bear (94)

"A slightly thin, whiskey-soaked, stroopwafel nose hides chocolate and roast under sharp spirits. In the sip, simple cocoa powder with a medium backing bitterness. Rough and jagged, with an accessible simplicity."

Bend Brewing Barrel Aged Trade War (94)

"Nose with light licorice, dark chocolate, pronounced oak tannin, a touch of cardboard. The sip offers woody vanilla and tannic spice touches, giving structure to creamy dark-chocolate body. Compelling."

Anchorage Time Waits for No One (95)

Super-intense flavor across the board. Dark rich chocolate and dark cherry. Boozy. Over the top sweet, but the bitterness and the booze attempt to balance it. Still sweet but also bitter.

Revolution Brewing Deth's Tar 2019 (95)

"Sharp black nose like a Slayer song—rhythmic, pulsating, unrelenting. The sip softens the brutalism with a sweet melodic interlude, probing the darkness before an acoustic prog-metal outro ties a folksy bow on it."

Seventh Son Brewing Murmuration (95)

"Dark, roasty nose with anise and holiday spice. On the sip, holiday fruitcake—dark cherry and raisin braced by spice—and a warming, familiar, just-sweet-enough body. Endearing and rich."

Mikerphone Brewing TMF (95)

"Vanilla, almond, oak tannin, smoked bacon, caramelized stone fruit. The sip pulls it into focus: initial roast sharpness quickly tempered by substantial body. Grilled orange, sour cherry, and lingering almond/coconut keep it interesting."

Coronado German Chocolate Cake 2018 (96)

Intense dark bitterness up front: roast, dark chocolate, dried fruit, with a drying oak character. Some residual sweetness, but the bitter qualities dominate overall. Pleasant nutty coconut on the finish. Lingering vanilla and chocolate on the swallow. Some nice warming alcohol notes.”

Oskar Blues Brewing Barrel Aged Ten Fidy (96)

"A friendly throwback, reassuring and familiar, with sharp black malt on the nose. Layers of sharp, sweet, rich, and boozy. Breadth of flavor makes up for a generally thin body."

Bottle Logic Jam the Radar 2018 (96)

Similar to the aroma. Strong chocolate and raspberry character. Rich and dessert-like, decidedly sweet without being overly cloying. The whiskey character adds nice vanilla warming notes on the finish.

Surly Brewing 2020 Barrel-aged Darkness (96)

"Toasted cereal and mocha-latte nose. The sip is multidirectional—sharper dark malt, creamier chocolate, boozier whiskey, sweeter nutty vanilla—all confidently resolved in a cohesive whole."

Hoppin’ Frog Brewery Double Barrel B.O.R.I.S. (97)

"Dark cocoa, red wine, and light char. Sturdy, broad-shouldered sip, rich but not sweet, cohesive despite varied flavors. Firm, rounded tobacco bitterness lingers deep into the smooth finish. Luxurious."

Three Taverns Double Smack (97)

Crazy and bit disorienting with the first taste. There are a lot of flavors vying for attention all at once. Quite sweet, but this is offset by the spicy roastiness from the coffee. The banana helps pull things together by adding a richness between the dryer character of the coffee and oak. The finish has strong licorice and vanilla character, with lingering maple-syrup sweetness.

Perennial Barrel-aged Abraxas 2018 (97)

Cinnamon for days! Semisweet chocolate. Slight coffee, vanilla, caramel. Quite boozy but not harsh. The cayenne burn on the finish is present and appropriate, and the tannins from the barrel and whiskey blend well with the rest of the adjuncts.

Hardywood Hoax (97)

Rich and chewy, lots of dark chocolate and dried fruit, with a strong boozy finish. It’s extremely complex without being cloying. Thick and potent with alcohol lingering in the aftertaste.”

Goose Island Brewery Bourbon County Stout 2019 (97)

"Sharp, inky nose underpinned by light caramel. More action in the sip—bold, assertive barrel over a base stout with layers of dark malt, caramel, and thoughtful sweetness. Exquisite and enduring."

Cerebral Barrel-aged Ancient Ruins (97)

Dark chocolate with an intense boozy barrel character. Warming without being overly aggressive. The finish is a balance of bitter dark malt and sweet chocolate. Nice spicy quality from the barrel. Very sweet, strong, and rich.

Weldwerks Old Fitz Medianoche (97)

"Chocolate roast on the nose, sweet bourbon highlights. Dark-chocolate, with smooth dark coffee and caramel. Singular in focus and intensity."

Angry Chair Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Awakening (97)

High perceived up-front sweetness with a dry cocoa-powder finish. Coffee is strong and helps to balance the sweetness from the malt and vanilla. Spice from the rum and cinnamon adds complexity and plays off of the booze. Warming, slightly boozy without being hot.”

Against the Grain 70K Amburana (98)

"Deliciously spicy, cinnamon-forward nose. The sip is sweetish but round, pulling the drying spice notes together with creamy milk chocolate."

Perennial Artisan Ales Maman (98)

"Deepest and darkest of noses—anise and French roast. Layered sip with hazelnut, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, crème brûlée, and singed marshmallow. Smooth, engaging, thoughtful."

Weldwerks Coconut Medianoche (98)

A Mounds candy bar. Dark chocolate and roast paired with toasted coconut. Great balance of the adjuncts. Finish is sweet, as you would expect, but still relatively balanced given the other significant aspects of the beer. Nice warming alcoholic boozy note on the finish without coming across overly hot.

Birds Fly South Empress Rising: Red Wine (98)

"Red fruit, faint smoke, and licorice. The sip shines with vinous oak, trading spirit sharpness for big, sweet body and red fruit, balanced by smooth tannins and bitterness. Confident, creative."

Side Project Brewing Beer: Barrel: Time (99)

"Endless depths of dark malt and espresso; creamy caramel and Nutella around the edges. The sip wraps nutty caramel midtones in huge roasted bass tones."

Side Project Derivation Blend #9 (99)

Spicy cinnamon. Semisweet chocolate. Slight peppery spice/heat. Sweet maple. Spicy coffee. Vanilla and caramel barrel characteristics. Fairly viscous and mouth coating. Nice warming character from the barrel without being overly hot.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Assassin 2020 (100)

"Deep, smooth bass notes (dark chocolate and earth), rounded with a polished, toasted-oak note, heavy on vanillin and coconut—luxurious, rich, confident. The sip hits the golden mean between sweet and dark with an improbable, supernatural balance. Layers of caramel buoyed by dark, roasty malt richness that never overpowers the more delicate notes. Perfectly integrated."