Samuel Smith Imperial Stout is a very fine stout beer that is available in local stores. In fact, this is an excellent example of what I think a “stout” ought to be: a strong, dark, malty beer. When I poured this into a glass I thought that there must be something wrong. There was no effervescence or “life” to the beer. But eventually a thin foam grew on the top. Some reviews note a three finger head. Maybe if you dump it in the glass you might get that much head. Adding to the perception is the amazingly dark and opaque color to the beer. With the exception of some strange craft beers, this has got to be the darkest commercially available beer I’ve ever seen. The aroma is heavy with malt and molasses. The initial taste is exactly what you might expect, with malt and a slight yeast flavors and there is a smooth creamy but maybe “salty” feel in the mouth. I can’t describe this as a really sweet beer. There was just a small taste of hops but it is so slight that it might either be my imagination or the roasted barley. The one thing that differentiates this beer from a Belgian beer that might also be heavy on the malt would be the lack of any “bready” flavor or roundness on the tongue and none of the sweetness that some Belgian beers have.
A bit about the beer itself. It comes in a fairly large 550 ML (1 pint, 2.7 ounces) brown bottle and is labeled as having 7% alcohol. It is imported by Merchant du Vin and can be found at at least some Dahl’s Food Stores in the Des Moines area. The price was comparatively cheap.