Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

7,723 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,723
Reviews: 2,694
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 680
Gots: 1,954 | FT: 115
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: 7,723 | Reviews: 2,694
Reviews by estlinska:
Photo of estlinska
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a bomber, poured into a tulip. Pours a deep black as night with ruby tones at the edges of the glass. There is a thumb and a half of grainy head the color of mocha. It dissipates slowly and leaves thick lacing on the glass. The nose is a lot of hops, the sort characteristic of a Stone beer. It is dominated by a pine forest smell with some citrus grapefruit notes. There is roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate in the backbone. The taste is again pretty hop forward, more of the pine resin and even more of the citrusy grapefruit oil. It masks the alcohol well, but there is definitely that warming sensation that lets you know it's there. The malt comes forward as caramelized sugar and very roasty. Overall, I think dialing back the hops just a hair might improve this beer. nevertheless, it is a very excellent beer, and I plan to begin working on a verticle to see how it ages.

Update: Had a 2011 and a 2012 in the past month of this gem and it absolutely becomes a gorgeous beer, even after one year of age. The hops settle out to this orange and grape-like smoothness that just tastes fantastic. It also starts to pick up some flavors like a nice Port. It's really hard not to drink what I have left of these.

More User Reviews:
Photo of miguellunarusso
4.81/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage... Bitterness died down, chocolate, coffee, toffee nose and mouth. Full body is an understatement. Best stout I have had, hands down

Photo of funjack5150
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Just picked up three bottles today of the 2014 release, super surprised to find it at the beer store. I hear the 2015 release comes out tomorrow. Went home chilled two bottles and put one in the cellar. I get a lot of chocolate its kind of nice. Sipping on a glass of it right now, well watching March Madness, what could be better?

Photo of do_ob
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bomber shared between two snifters. Pours pitch black in appearance with a 1 finger head of medium-brown colored foam. Sweet, bitter chocolate, roasted malt, and strong coffee-bean flavors on the nose. Light notes of vanilla and toffee accompany. Medium-heavy weight, and very dense and creamy. Loads of bitter chocolate and expresso up front with a mild sweetness setting in middleways. An awesome blance of roasted malt sees this one through to the end. The aftertaste is composed of strong, toasty malt, bittered chocolate, and intense coffee.

Overall, an excellent example of the style with a little added sweetness. Sickeningly sweet, and euphorically roasty, this beer is world-class in all aspects.

Photo of FaradayUncaged
3.71/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours an amazing black with brown head but quickly downhill from there. Smells of burnt malts and boozy alcohol that carries through the taste and finish. Mouthful is a plus but overall seems like maybe some age is a good idea. The burnt flavor and smell is all too powerful and dampers what seems like an otherwise pleasurable experience.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 weatherdog
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Brixies in Brookfield Il, served in a 12oz. snifter

It pours a pitch black with a dense light mocha head that lingered for a minute or two before disappearing. As the liquid level lowers medium lacing is stuck to the sides of the glass.

The nose is exploding with deep roasted coffee with a compliment of chocolate. It just borders between a deep roast and burnt for my taste. I'm also picking up a little pine type hop aroma at the end.

Coffee flavors dominate the flavor much like the nose. The flavor is just over the line in terms of having a distinct roasted grain flavor but isn't so burnt that it makes the beer unpalatable. Not much chocolate in the flavor but alcohol in the backend is a large component. This is my first time having this beer and I can see why people rave about aged versions.

The carbonation is much too high and distracting from a smooth mouthfeel. It finishes pretty dry which I much prefer over a sweet finish in RIS' Drinkability is ok but not great mostly due to the high carbonation. If I let this one sit for 30 minutes to an hour I bet it would improve.

Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice 2 finger, brown head which left lots of lace. Typical viscous black you would expect in a stout.

S - Very chocolatey on the nose with good amounts of coffee and roasted malt.

T - First sip tastes like dark fruits. Follows with a huge roasty creamy flavor. Coffee and chocolate comes next. Caramel sweetness is there. Has a nice deep alcohol burn at the end that really warms you up. Leaves with just a tiny bitterness.

M - Full body, with carbonation on the high side of medium.

O - Another very solid beer from Stone. I have a couple aging and looking forward to seeing how they develop.

Photo of steelerguy
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black with a large tan head. You are not going to see through this sucker and the head just lasts and lasts.

S - You got your dark fruits smells that are so good in an RIS and you can also get some roasted malt notes with a little licorice.

T - Awesome, full of flavor, super robust, lots of malt flavors to dissect here. At first I tasted plumbs, slightly sweet, then some roasted coffee notes hit. There is a nice hop presence, you will definitely get some bitterness on the palate early on. A little alcohol warming, but you would never guess it was 10.8%. Quite smooth, a viscous feel like most big beers. Didn't really detect the carbonation.

M - Very good, smooth and viscous. You know you a lot of malt went into making this beer. Warming and smooth without being harsh on the alcohol.

D - One of the most drinkable 10%+ beers I have had. Damn near hearty and you could easily drink too much of this because it disguises it's alcohol content so well.

Photo of Dmann
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a beer!! I have never seen a beer so black and so thick in all my life! This baby poured like 10W30 but had such a heavenly smell to it...hints of plums, chocolate and coffee without much carbonation. This sucker was black through and through, no light could get through whatsoever. I let it sit till it was just below room temp, took my first sip and was amazed. It felt like a thick syrup going down, then I tasted the chocolate and coffee flavors followed up by a huge yet incredibly smoothe alchohol flavor. This was a thick ass beer and it took my about 45-50 min to sit and enjoy the whole bomber bottle. This is one to seek out now and try, then geta couple more and cellar them!

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Been waiting to try this one for some time now. Empties the bomber black as eternal night with a deep dark tan head that rises up to greet me. Thick, syrupy hole...there's no! Bitersweet chocolate, roasted coffee & nuts, black licorice, dark fruits and burnt grains...a cornucopia of sensual delight for the nose. I enjoy just smelling this brew. (I was sniffing so much my fiance wondered what the hell I was doing.)

Incredibly thick roasty coffee and chocolate chewiness rushes over my palate. Hints of black candy licorice, raisins and nuts along with some nice fruity notes. Alcohol singes the back of my palate, but melds in well and enhances the experience. A damn fine imperial stout...I love it.

Smooth, creamy, huge doesn't get any better than this! Velvety smooth. Drinkability is hindered slightly by the big ABV, otherwise this is an awesome brew to have on a cold night..wonderfully crafted and will warm ya up nicely. 100% recommended. Thanks to kmpitz2 and ppoitras for hooking me up with yet another amazing Stone brew!

Photo of blitz134
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Review 250...wanted something good. I've had some tasters of this in the past, and knew it was good, but wanted to sit down with my own. Enjoyed over a long evening of watching tv...

Pitch black body. Shiny, like oil, coming out of the bottle. Dark expresso colored head, small and fleeting. Leaves a slick surface on the top.

Dark toasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, expresso and coffee beans. All those dark aromas work in with a bit of sweet, dark fruits. Raisin and prunes. Fruit takes on a fermented aroma with the alcohol that is present.

Taste is pretty huge. Dominated by dark toasted malts and bittersweet dark chocolate. A bit of sweetness comes in after that, the dark fruits again. Lots of doesn't hold back at all, although it doesn't really burn that much.

Mouthfeel is oily slick, thick, full bodied. Slides down the tongue and down the throat. Flavor lingers for a bit and the alcohol hangs on a bit longer.

Really nice beer here, awesome aroma and nice flavor. Huge bodied but lots of alcohol. I'd gladly have this again and again, so its perfect from that standpoint but this is a huge beer and its drinkability is limited there. Double edged sword...whaddya do?

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,723 ratings.