141 of the Best 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.

Great Divide Yeti (2017) (83)

Herbs from the nose, along with a light onion flavor. Definite alcohol strength, even a bit hot. Cocoa powder–dusted dark truffle with a healthy level of cherry ester. Hops flavor is citrusy, mainly lemon and grapefruit.

3 Floyds Dark Lord (2017) (85)

Like eating an alcoholic gingerbread house. Heavy sweetness, molasses, gingerbread spiciness that extends into the aftertaste. Cloying sweetness covers everything but the gingerbread. Finishes with light bread, chocolate, and coffee.

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."

Exhibit 'A' Sunday Paper (86)

Dark roast malt and a medium dark roast coffee. Medium light body. Very tasty coffee. There’s some boozy alcohol in the finish. Nice balance. Finishes roasty and slightly bitter.

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.”

AleSmith Brewing Co Speedway Stout Variant #2: Mostra Coffee & Coconut (87)

“Vegetal coffee on the nose makes it hard to get into. On the sip, dry and underwhelming.”

Three Taverns Brewery Cocoa Cafe (87)

“Spicy warming latte nose, almost chai-like with an earthiness that supports the sweeter elements. In the sip, it’s not nearly as excessive as the nose suggests, with sweet caramel notes tempered by a subtle drying spice. Finishes with a subtlety that’s surprising.”

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."

Grand Teton Brewing Black Cauldron (88)

"Dark- and milk-chocolate nose; caramel and toasted-bread touches. Initial sip is well-rounded, gentle—roast bitterness stirred into semisweet chocolate glaze with citrus hints, finishing with a fruity dark-chocolate note."

Iron Hill Russian Imperial Stout (88)

Sweeter and less burnt than some Russian imperial stouts. Lingering semisweet chocolate flavor in the aftertaste. Alcohol hides until you swallow, then reveals itself. Flavors of dried raisins, chocolate, and coffee. Some pleasant oxidation character, and a warming finish. A bit of roast astringency sticks out on the swallow giving it a husky character.

Four City Brewing Company Amanda (88)

“Big berry notes on the nose with a rounded sweetness more than berry tannin. In the sip, the dark chocolate comes forward, dusty and dry, pushing the berry notes to the retronasal. Pleasantly restrained.”

Left Hand Bittersweet Nitro (89)

Chocolate, licorice, and dark fruit. The coffee adds a nice dry, roasted background, and the vegetal note from the aroma isn’t as pronounced. Finish has a milk-chocolate sweetness.

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.

The Bruery Vindictive (89)

The flavor of this beer dances between roast character with some malt sweetness and fruit sweetness. The roast is a bit of coffee, leather, and chocolate. Fruits are plum and prune with some sweet grapes coming through, grappa-like. Stout character gets a bit lost in the mix.”

St. Elmo Brewing Three (89)

"Fruity, dank modern hops in the nose, juxtaposed with thin chocolate and roast. Sweet orange and lemon together with creamy dark chocolate. Decadent, forward-thinking."

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."

EPIC Triple Barrel Big Bad Baptist (90)

Tastes like a piece of coffee cake with rum poured over it. Finish is pretty dry, possibly due to oak tannins and/or the coffee. Coconut and cocoa nibs round things out without sticking out.

Ecliptic Brewing Oort Imperial Stout (90)

“Hefty blue-ish tone, cool and detached, with a big dose of earthy hops. The flavor balances that tight hop bitterness with a very smooth roast. Body is a touch thin by modern standards, but it adds to the overall drinkability. Punchy and flavorful.”

Silver City Brewery Shadow Magic (90)

“Subtle, polished chocolate notes on the nose. Big roast-malt flavor notes, very light smoke, and a subtle sweetness pulls it together and softens the edges.”

Nocterra Brewing Company Take A Hike: S'mores Stout (90)

“Bold, but slightly kludgy, s’more notes in the nose pull chocolate and marshmallow through a slightly medicinal, artificial lens. The sip is a bit thin for a beer of this scale, more ‘flavored’ than ‘flavorful.’”

MotoSonora Brewing Road of Bones Imperial Stout (91)

"Anise and minty-herbal hops drive the nose; faint roast. The sip is loose and light, like a big dry stout—lean, minimal—without the expected bitterness and body."

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."

Brewery Vivant Love Shadow (2017) (91)

Coffee and chocolate up front, followed by a boozy, oak-barrel quality. Fairly sweet, but the roast bitter finish along with a bit of alcoholic burn keep it from being overly cloying. A bit of a chalk note on the finish, like cocoa powder.”

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."

The Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout (91)

"Hops on dark roast—richly layered, intense nose. The sip is big dark cacao polished with a smooth, creamy sheen—bold, lively. Dark chocolate deep into the finish."

Single Hill Brewing Company Osa Major (91)

“Woody, wet-dog note on the nose. The sip is more structured woody tannin with a big bread crust note, but surprisingly restrained roast.”

Pure Project Lost Monarch (91)

“Candy sweet in the sip, but endearing punchy coffee notes amplify and define the rich caramel midtones, with a well-placed sharp roast note across it.”

Broad Brook Brewing Company OLMEC Mayan Kakawa Stout (91)

“Molé nose with a gentle cinnamon spice, the sip is broad with a reassuring sweetness that softens the spice but flattens the more characterful edges.”

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."

Birds Fly South BA Wolves in the Piano (2017) (93)

Lots of dark chocolate. More overripe banana. The barrel is more of a supporting role. Very sweet and rich beer that’s balanced by the barrel and the alcohol. More rich than sweet. Decadent.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Norseman's Wrath (93)

"Chocolate orange, lime, citrus-zested dark-roast coffee. The sip is more familiar: dark-chocolate orange—creamy, with enough sweetness to soften the bitter edges. A compelling embrace of the new."

Roadmap Brewing Co Plain Black T's (93)

“Dark chocolate, anise, and a bit of licorice in the nose. The sip brings coffee roast forward with a smoothly defined edge. Lingering dark-chocolate bitterness.”

Uhl’s Brewing Co Fluffernutter Imperial Stout (93)

“Natural earthy peanut on the nose—spicy and woody. The sip is sweeter but bolstered by that earthy real peanut and a big low-end roast malt that builds support for the sweeter top end.”

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."

Adtoit Theory Double Barrel Death of Cthulhu (Ghost 565) (94)

The stout is pretty sweet overall—chocolate, caramel, candy sugar, and some dark fruit. The finish is quite boozy and bitter enough to keep it from being cloying.

Elysian Brewing Dragonstooth Stout (94)

“Bold PNW hop nose with intense roast notes alongside. Simultaneous hop and roast agendas with big and uncompromising flavors of both.”

Hoppin' Frog Brewing Rye B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher - Batch # 400 (94)

“Beautifully thick pour. The nose pulls forest pine needle and bark, the sip pushes a dry woody, tannic roast malt with just a touch of residual sweetness. Classically bold.”

Melvin Brewing Eureka (House of Flying Barrels) Night Visions - Vanilla Latte (94)

“Huge coffee notes in the nose with a polished woody smooth edge. The sip is sweeter, trading away some of the expected roast bitterness for a general coffee-ness, and a round body that feels imprecise despite the sharp flavor components.”

Moksa Brewing Co Changes (94)

“Big coffee notes in the nose with a vivid marshmallow pop; the coconut emerges in the sip for a soft and indulgent sweet finish given structure by the strategic coffee notes. Smart choices pull it back at every critical moment.”

Moksa Brewing Co Grasp of Noir (94)

“Sweet nutty marshmallow in the nose with an earthy undertone. The sip is rich and peanut-forward. Big, decadent, indulgent, and beautifully balanced.”

Fremont Brewing Dark Star (95)

The flavor follows up on everything the aroma suggested—rich, sweet, chocolate coffee but adds in a hoppy bitterness that supports the roasty edge. While the bitterness lingers into finish with a light acidity, it’s still fairly smooth. Just enough alcohol to feel appropriate for the style.

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.

Cerebral Here Be Monsters (Batch 2) (95)

Massive rich, sweet stout—caramel, chocolate, with lingering sweetness. Strong boozy barrel qualities pair well with the base beer, though the finish still comes across bordering on cloying.”

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."

Aslan Brewing Satan's Airport (95)

Huge! Sweet malty richness, great malt character behind the coffee/roast flavor: dates, raisin, caramel, and toffee. Despite that, the coffee and roast are strong enough to drive the flavor. Very estery, strong spicy alcohol. Coffee character has serious depth. Good-quality roast coffee with fruity/peppery notes.

Bend Brewing Co Canadian Coldfront (95)

“Huge coffee notes in the nose strike a general ‘coffee’ tone. The sip is drier than might be expected, but the bit of malt sweetness amplifies the lightly sweet latte approach.”

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.

Brick West Brewing Buffalo Coat (96)

"French roast, dark cherry, apple, and faint smoke on the nose. The sip is brutally bitter, but steers clear of acrid with creamy softness. Classically rugged."

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."

The Lost Abbey Old Viscosity (96)

“Big caramel-coffee notes on the nose strike a latte pose. The sip tightens up the excess of the nose, with sharper (and slightly unforgiving) roast notes.”

Tripping Animals Brewing Company Navaho Churro (96)

“Big sweet cinnamon notes in the nose. On the sip, the cinnamon-sugar note dominates.”

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."

Jester King Brewery Necrølith (97)

"Black-malt nose stays on the pleasant side of inky, with grape juice and grape candy undertones. The sip is well-rounded, smooth, with a light nutty caramel note softening harshness from darker malts."

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.”

4 Noses Ryeciprocal (97)

Chewy chocolate and roast character followed by a great spicy barrel character. Finish is fairly dry, accentuated by the roast and oak astringency. Has some restrained boozy heat on the swallow that is nicely warming.

Vitamin Sea Brewing Imperial Seven Bells (97)

“Flourless chocolate cake with hazelnut espresso icing in the nose. The sip pulls the similar nutty roastiness, buffered by a softening vanilla note with the warm glow of a tungsten bulb—flattering in its soft definition.”

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."

Tampa Bay Brewing Ready to Drink (98)

Very coffee, but more chocolate and roast from the beer come out, and the peanuts are more integrated with the malt. It’s sweet but not overly sweet. The alcohol helps balance as well as some hops bitterness. The finish is smooth.

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."

Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout (2017) (98)

Massively rich and complex, tons of chocolate, caramel, oak, whiskey with a nice boozy finish that isn’t overly hot. The bitterness and alcoholic finish keep the sweetness in check, and the complex character lingers really well.”

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.

Against the Grain Brewery Pretty Willie's Stout (98)

Caramel and chocolate with a restrained roasted bitter finish. The barrel adds some nice spice qualities but is pretty subtle overall. Nice balance on the finish, not overly dry. A mix of caramel, roast, and alcohol lingers through the swallow.”

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."

Surly Darkness (2017) (98)

Raspberry and milk chocolate with some sweet dark cherry and clean roast. Rich and thick body with a fairly dry finish and a slight ethanol burn. Hops bitterness is there, but well hidden to just provide balance. Some lingering bitterness.

Terrapin Richland Reserve (2017) (98)

Surprisingly, the coconut comes first, with coffee trailing close behind. Then the rich sweetness brings up the rear: very big maple, pecan praline, dates, caramel, and rich toffee. Nice vanilla. Warming alcohol.

Highland Park Brewery Brunch Friends (98)

“Over-the-top maple nose goes for the breakfast-stout gusto, with light coffee notes behind it. The sip brings the expected sweetness, but with a toothy smooth roast that grounds it. Big and bold, but surprising.”

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.

SpindleTap Brewery Aceite Crudo (99)

“Beautiful nose with pungent dark malt, smooth roast, and a fragrant licorice/anise element. On the tongue, it’s smooth and deliberate, as rounded roasty notes play against layers of caramel. A light hop bitterness offers a structured through line and keeps it from becoming too sweet.”

Hardywood Park Ruse (2017) (99)

Fantastic rich and chewy stout character, huge chocolate and dried cherry, with hints of vanilla. The finish is quite sweet, but cut by the tannic barrel-aged character. Not as much red-wine character as in the nose, but it still adds some complexity.”

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."

Drake's The Void (2017) (100)

Fairly sweet up front. Starts with caramel and dark dried cherries with a lingering roastiness that balances with the strong alcohol character nicely. Finish is warming but not overwhelmingly hot. The whiskey character adds complexity but isn’t overwhelming.