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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

7,407 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,407
Reviews: 2,620
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 646
Gots: 1,718 | FT: 95
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,407 | Reviews: 2,620 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BrownNut:
Photo of BrownNut
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm appending a second review of this beer after aging it for a little over a year since I had the other one of these I bought at the same time. Interestingly, some of my scoring is different than before but the descriptions aren't very different. So I suppose it's evidence of the greater amount of comparative context I've cultivated over the past year, having tried many others in that time and having gotten a better idea of what's at the very top of the scale and reckoning the others against that.

Overall, I don't know that this one changed much over the course of a year. In retrospect, I should have scored it a bit better last time. But here are both reviews, the newer not influenced by the older, which I didn't look at again until pasting this new one. I'd say there's no problem with aging this one, but there really isn't a need. Not for 1 year anyway.

I've left the original scores as the official ones. If I used the more recent ones it would be a 4.28 instead of a 4.01

OCT 30 2013 REVIEW

18.5 months old, 13 months since the original review below. Bottle to tulip, served a bit cooler than room temp and warming to room temp over the course of a long sampling.

A - 4.25 - Black with a nice thick, creamy, fluffy, tan head that makes for a quick few fingers with a moderately aggressive pour and settles down to a film within two to three minutes. Lacing that sticks right where it is.

S - 4.5 - While the head is fresh it puts off the loveliest mix of malty (think Whoppers) and chocolatey smells. As the head fades, the malty smell fades with it. Once it settles, the chocolate is almost a chocolate liqueur smell. There's a note of booze, but not in a bad way - in a slightly fruity, slightly floral way that works with the rest of it, overlapping and blending into the sweetness of the chocolate. It really is a lovely aroma overall. Not intense, but very nice.

T - 4.25 - Cocoa initially, and later in the glass more like a nice bittersweet dark chocolate, something north of milk chocolate but south of 70% cacao. Mild black malt char. The two of those are nicely balanced against each other. Milder than some imperial stouts. Pleasant booze warmth wafting up the throat on the exhale. The booze elevates it if you're me and your reviews never talk about a beer being "too hot". Warms the belly a bit after a while. Somehow gives me coffee breath without a noticeable coffee flavor note.

M - 4.0 - Medium-heavy body, somewhat viscous, and tongue-coating. The alcohol wreaks a mild sensation on the tongue. Despite the tongue coating, there is also the barest bit of dry underneath that, like the very beginnings of hop abrasion.

O - 4.25 - This is a top quality imperial stout. Very well done. There are others that are more complex, but this is still very well composed and executed overall. This one is friendly. If you wanted to introduce somebody to imperial stouts without scaring them off, this would be a good one to choose.

OCT 2, 2012 REVIEW

Bottle to tulip. 5.5 months old. Served cellar temp and got to room temp by halfway.

A - 4.25 - Inky black and viscous looking. Somewhat fizzy dark khaki head that settles down to a cap within a couple minutes. Second pour produces a head more like I like them, thick and textured like a landscape, with peaks and valleys. Settles down to a film.

S - 4.0 - Can't put my finger on this smell, though I know it. Something fruity? It reminds me of something in the bouquet of a Borderies cognac, almost a pastry note, maybe with marzipan, maybe with fruit. Aside from that, a bit of that Sugar Smacks malty-grainy-sweet-honey-molasses smell, bleeding over into chocolate, bleeding over into a bit of coffee.

T - 4.0 -While there's chocolate, cocoa-esque, it's dialed back. There's mild char and coffee but not until the exhale, which comes with some warm booze fumes, all three appreciated. I'd welcome the char and coffee up front. Hint of chocolate in the burp. Definitely gained character as it warmed.

M - 4.0 - Very smooth and soft. Barely medium bodied. Looked thicker when pouring.

O - 4.0 - After a previous really big stout, I was expecting the same from this based on what I'd heard, but this one is milder. Still it's really good. The balance is such that nothing sticks out. That makes it more subtle than blasty. Often I want something more robust, something harsher, but it's good to know this milder one is there too.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Bear1964
4.69/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Pour into a Pint glass from a 22oz bottle, pitch black pour with a fluffy tan head that turned into some very solid lace that hung on the glass from start to finish. Aroma held vanilla and alcohol notes with some roasted malts trying to peek out...they remained covered until the first taste. The taste is bitter/roasted coffee and malts with the alcohol present but not over powering, deep roasted flavors and some wood hints show up as the tasting goes on. The mouthfeel is so dead on for the style, thick/heavy on the tongue while leaving a nice roasted mild coffee/roasted flavor at the end. Overall I'm very impressed with this offering, I love RIS as a whole and I've had a lot of Stones products...this is a winner and I will pick it up when I can.

Photo of kscaldef
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Revisiting 2012 vintage in Mar 2014.

A: unchanged, S: predominantly dark chocolate, which some dark fruit. T: Deliciously chocolatey, alcohol burn is gone. M: whatever bothered me 2 years ago is completely gone, mouthfeel now is near perfect. O: aging seems to have done wonders for this.

Original review follows:

2012 Vintage

A: Extremely dark, no more than a millimeter of beer on the edge permits any light through. Decent sized, dark mocha head. Leaves no lacing on the glass. (4)

S: Chocolate and overripe banana. Prunes and raisins. Heavily-roasted coffee beans come out as it sits and warms (4)

T: Tons of rich chocolate, with supporting notes of nuts, cherries, dates, and figs. Some alcohol apparent, but not excessive. Little hop character, some alcohol bitterness in the finish. (4)

M: Very smooth and unctuous in the mouth. However, it leaves an unpleasant grainy sensation that lingers for quite a while and really detracts from the beer. (2)

O: This beer is a miniature tragedy. So good, up to the finish which is really unpleasant. I could just drink faster, so as to experience more taste and less aftertaste, but that's probably a poor choice with a 10.5% beer. So, I'm torn. Half of the time I like this beer, half of the time I dislike it. Unfortunate. (3)

Photo of JJKBeerLvr
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Sampled August 2014 from bottles in pint glass.

Appearance: Very dark color, dark tan head that lasted for a while.

Smell: Sweet with strong coffee aromas, with some toasted/burnt hints.

Taste: Full-bodied with great balance of malt and hops. Dominated by toasted coffee, but with some chocolate flavor as well. Taste starts sweet with malts, then comes the roasted coffee flavors, and then a little bitterness from the hops. Overall a great combination.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, but smooth.

Overall: Great stout. Best if you enjoy a combination both strong hops and malts. I will buy this again.

Photo of oberon
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black like motor oil I held it up to a pretty bright light and nothing shined thru a bit of a mocha colored head settled nicely on top perfect.Hops in a imperial stout well this one has a big dose that come thru in the aroma with some cocoa powder and deeply roasted malt.Big complexities going on in the flavor department roasted coffee followed by a medicinal quality a touch of smoke and hop dryness in the finish.A beer that lives up to the billing big bold and beautiful man what a beer!

Photo of davemarc87
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of RoyalT
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Black as night with a ruby tinge. The head was kind of weak but lasted the glass really well.

Smell – Super stout flavors. Huge coffee and chocolate mixed with molasses and malt to make this an olfactory orgasm.

Taste – My Lord! The big coffee (Starbuck’s finest) has a lot of company in here. Raw brown sugar is a big player, along with chocolate syrup, prunes and raisins, kahlua, light toffee, and a complicated flavor that reminds me of tiramisu. This thing is awesome.

Mouthfeel – Low carbonation, typical for the style, and a smoothness that is beyond reproach.

Drinkability – I don’t know how Stone gets their brews so smooth, but this went down like silk.

Comments – I’m wary of being the newbie that rates beers too high – especially after my Ruination spasm attack (I’m still twitching) – but this brew embodies everything I believe a Stout should represent.

Update – The Stone RIP has established a reputation as one of the best beers made in America, and it is very well-deserved. In comparing the 2003 to the 2005, the only dig I can find is that the Appearance isn’t “perfect”. Otherwise, it’s as close to straight 5’s as you can get without gettin’ there.

The nose is incredible and changes dramatically as the beer warms. The sipping flavors come so fast they really make you slow down when drinking. You almost want to set up a tent out in the street and start telling people about it.

The Mouthfeel is impeccable and just does fall short of some of the best that I’ve ever had. Drinkability? You gotta be kidding me! I raise a toast to Greg and the entire Stone staff for putting everything together (once again). Cheers!

Update – I popped one of my cellared summer-released 2005s in June 2006. It’s just starting to get into the sweet spot. The alcohol is picking up steam and the sugars are opening up nicely. It still has plenty of body and will be perfect on its second b-day.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage - Bottle purchased at Ledger's in Berkeley

Better reviewers do a far better job on this masterpiece than I can ever match so I’ll simply add this: Believe the hype. Believe every word of it. Stone’s RIS is nearly perfect. Jet black. Bubbly dark tan head. Vinous aromas, dark fruit, chocolate, and a massive, unparalleled roastedness. Flavors of huge burnt dark roast coffee, nuts, vanilla, chocolate, dark fruits, everything one could ask for. Mouthfeel is perfect. Smooth, balanced, well hopped, partially covered to fading alcohol. Drinkability isn’t really applicable here. My brain tells me that drinking three would be suicide by my toungue says, more, more, more! I guess that’s high.

Highly recommended.

Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of tectactoe
4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and dense black, essentially no color coming through this beer at all, with a thick, creamy, deep-tan head that has great staying power. Nice lacing left on the glass, especially for a RIS. The nose hits with some bittersweet chocolate and dense, dark fruit sweetness (think raisins and prunes). The initial taste is very sweet to the tongue, following heavy with that raisin-prune flavor, along with bits of anise. Roasted malts are plentiful as well as the bittersweet chocolate flavor that sits heavy on the back of the tongue. Halfway through the sip, the oats, grains, woody, and burnt oak flavors come alive followed by a final bite of bitterness that resonates in the mouth upon swallowing. Coffee is heavy and noticeable as the main aftertaste in this one. Very nice. Very heavy and creamy with medium-low carbonation.

Good RIS here. In the beginning, a bit too sweet for my tastes, however, as it warms up, it becomes more balanced with the deep oats, grains, oak, and coffee flavors. This beer definitely gets better as the glass gets warmer and the sweetness starts to mellow out a bit.

EDIT: 4/5/2013

2007 vintage, thanks Chris. Either this beer transforms amazingly with age, or my palate has been refined over the last half year, but this was much better than I remember it from the first time (and I still thought it was pretty good). Less of the nearly-cloying anise and licorice (much less, actually) and quite a bit more cocoa powder and even a hefty dose of coffee beans in the aftertaste. Decent roast from the malts and still a solid alcohol warmth after all these years. Mouth feel wasn't as amazing as I remembered it, though. No oxidation - wow.

Photo of ricke
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage. Cellared for about a year.

A: Black with a small brown and thick head, Nice lacings. A really good looking beer.

S: Very balanced and round, yet with plenty of bold aromas. Hard roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits and coffee - all listed in order of strength. Some alcohol in the nose.

T: Really good, smooth and powerful at the same time. It's similar to the smell with lots of roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Wonderful subtle fruity notes. The finish is quite bitter with a faint hop note, wood and a hint of licorice. The alcohol provides a warming feeling in the finish. It develops nicely in the glass - the roasted character and the fruity notes gain strength as the chocolate takes a step back.

M: Not overly full-bodied. Smooth mouthfeel and mellow carbonation.

D: Very good. More than a year in the cellar was really good for this one.

Photo of ExtraStout
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This poured like used motor oil. It's just plain black, without an ounce of head aside from the small ring around the inside of the glass. It leaves a delicate and small lace as it goes down.

The taste is outright powerful, with a hint of licorice. The alcoholic content is certainly present, although not overwhelmingly so. All things considered, it's a well-balanced beer. I've had some imperial stouts lately that didn't quite live up to the name, but this one definitely does not come up short. In fact, it could almost be toned down a bit.

This is one big stout.

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of boston2bburg
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours darker than a black steer's tukus on a moonless night. Attractive caramel cap of fine bubbles which thin out a bit but gravitate to the edge of the glass where they leave their mark copiously.

Aroma is roasted and toasted malts and some earthy hops.

Big and bold, imbibing this beer feels more like eating chocolate birthday cake with caramel icing, at least in body. The taste exhibits some of this, but leans more heavily on toast and nuts. Starchy and bready on the finish, the mouthfeel is silky up front.

Butter presents itself on the nose and palate as the beer warms, and with it a more prominent booziness. And this one will have ample time to warm, as it's a very slow sipper. No room for seconds; more like dessert for two.

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.87/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review #100 (!) from notes tidily scrawled on 11/10/10. 2010 vintage.

I poured about half a bomber into a large snifter, leading to a one-finger mocha head atop an awfully black body. The head fades swiftly and leaves behind a hazy, swirling cauldron-look of film. This looks like a RIS should look.

Gigantic, bold aromas blossom out of the glass. Dark chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, anise, roasted malt, graham crackers, maple syrup, and a slightly nostril-stinging alcoholic heat all synthesize to result in an olfactory-filling treat of a smell. Big and bad would be an appropriate way to describe this scent.

As I sip away, flavors of roasted malt, booze, coffee-like acidity, and maybe a bit of hop bitterness grip the edges of my palate, while the expansive, sweet flavors of dark chocolate, brown sugar, and caramel disperse all over the flat of my tongue. All the while, the substantial alcohol content is present in a taste reminiscent of fine single malt Scotch. The finish is heavy on acidic coffee flavors. When first I tried this beer, I marveled at how it affected my palate in "waves," for lack of a better way to describe it. I still feel that it does this, but I am happy that I can now think more critically about how the beer tastes, and likewise describe it critically. Knowledge and cognitive exercise are wonderful - especially when one can get a warm buzz while gaining and performing them.

The mouthfeel has got it all: a full, creamy feel on the middle of my palate, along with a biting acidity on the periphery. A fairly clean, dry finish tops it all off. Mouthfeel-alicious.

This is oh-so-drinkable for how huge the flavor is and how high the alcohol content is. Simply put, I love this RIS. It was perhaps the first truly great beer that I tried, and I hold it in just as high esteem now as that first time I had it. It is a truly delicious and satisfying beer and I look forward to its release every year.

Photo of OhioBobcat
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of MadScientist
4.74/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: A black beer with a persistent brown head made of compact bubbles.

S: Moderately strong aromas of roasted grains mixed with some caramel and a sweet note of alcohol. There some chocolate and coffee that comes through better after a sip.

T: Strong roast flavors with coffee and caramel. There is a medium hops bitterness but little from the roast, mostly just a smooth, crystal malt sweetness. A moderately-low citrus hops flavor and a light licorice character. The balance is somewhat bitter but not for lack of sweetness, there a fair amount of that in here. I read the back of the bottle and now my palate is locked on the fruit flavor being black currents, I might have said something different but it would have been in that park. Aftertaste of dry, roasted grain and some bitterness.

M: A mouth filling beer that is full bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Just enough alcohol to pretty much warm you all the way though.

O: Pretty much everything I want in a RIS just packed full or roast, chocolate, caramel, dark fruit, hops bitterness and some hops flavor while fresh. A rock solid beer that has has a lot going on while maintaining a lot of balance. Not really sure what more I could want that doesn't fit in the glass.

Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of jono0101
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of brownbeer
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Has pretty much everything I look for in a great stout. Pours black as midnight with a somewhat frothy brown head that remains a thin layer throughout.

S- Deep and rich. Licorice,a ripe red fruit(strawberry?) that really sets this one apart, black currant, tobacco.

T- Milk chocolate, burnt malt. Less fruity than the nose with more of the dry tobacco quality. Vinous with blackberry almost like ruby port.

M- Thick and rich without being syrupy and suprisingly velvety carbonation.

D- Doesn't drink like it's 10.5%. A really well made beer. I agree with Stone, buy a case.

Photo of npala86
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of abeerdude
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of Schlais
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of hopsleeroy
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintqage poured into oversized wine glass from bomber

a-Minimal head, but deep black with no light coming though

S-Milk chocolate, licorice, Caramel
T-So balanced. Dark slightly sweetened chocolate, mild roast coffee, mild fruit, little bitterness going down. Nothing jumps out at you but it is very balanced. Hardly any alcohol flacvor. Kind of a malted milk flavor at times which kept me from rating higher
M-Smooth and creamy with a light carbonation on the end
D-Can go down easy but not enough going on to keep me coming back.

Highly recommended RID especially at the price. Drink one now and lay a few down to taste how the flavor evolves.

Photo of cjn40277
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,407 ratings.