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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

6,928 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,928
Reviews: 2,583
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 523
Gots: 1,512 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,928 | Reviews: 2,583 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jaycase
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle

a: black - liquid night sky. small amount of coffee brown head

s: chocolate most prominent. roasted malts a bit. some coffee in there too.

t: roasted malts with a nice chocolate flavor coming at the tail end. some coffee there. Some hops flavor comes through. Just the right amount of hops really. Big, big taste this. Alcohol becomes more prominent as it warms.

m: Smooth, creamy. Carbonation low to medium

o: This is a big beer which needs to be taken seriously. The alcohol is not afraid of showing itself but it's a background presence and not dominant which I appreciate. A solid RIS which I'll seek out next year. And such a great value to boot. Perfect for a crisp, cool autumn evening.

Jaycase, Oct 23, 2011
Photo of baconbourbon
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Jet black, a decent bit of lacing, and hardly any head at all.

Smell: Charred, burnt, with some hints of coffee and chocolate.

Taste: Very chocolatey with a nice coffee aftertaste. The alcohol content is certainly not shy in the taste.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy, nice and thick, but it goes down smoothly.

Overall: An excellent Russian Imperial Stout. Very well balanced, a tiny bit too boozy for my tastes, but I'm definitely not complaining.

baconbourbon, Oct 21, 2011
Photo of langm12
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a pint glass. 2011 release.

A - Thick and black. Incredible fluffy tan head considering the density of the brew below it. Head dissipates fairly quickly, but the lacing sticks around.

S - Huge roasted coffee, dark fruits, chocolates, burnt firewood

T - Smokey char and dark chocolate dominate. Coffee notes not as prevelant as the nose dictates, but still prevelant. Subtle hops make an appearance without distracting.

M - Thick and rich.

A great take on the RIS style.

langm12, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of DaveHS
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can't believe I haven 't gotten around to reviewing this one yet. 2011 version.

A-Pours shiny obsidian with 1/2 inch of coffee colored head. Minimal soapy lacing.

S-Medium roast coffee beans, milk chocolate, vanilla beans, charred wood.

T/M-When I think of what I want from an imperial stout, Stone IRS is the one to beat. Roasty with a dry hoppy backbone and assertive, harmonious flavors of coffee and baking chocolate. So simple, so good. Lush and full bodied with low to moderate carbonation.

O-This is one of the beers that got me into appreciating craft beer, and it still holds up.

DaveHS, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of chugalug06
1.93/5  rDev -55.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

2011 bottle aged 1 year; update: This brew has soured horribly... Much worse then 2009 Abyss... I won't touch any of my previous scoring, this was a drain pour.

For the record, this is not the Belgo Anise version

A - Awesome big fluffy tan head. Some lacing. Head quickly recedes. Brew is thin oil black.

S - Weird. Not sure how I feel about this scent... Very weird chocolate scent, some licorice too.

T - Not impressive. Weird dark malt with over amounts of chocolate. also, some cheep Folgers taste.

M - Carbonation is a little too high. Bitterness is nonexistent. Dryness/sweetness is too high, doesn't fit style. Brew is was too thin, too.

O - Not impressed with this Stone offering. I hope it flattens out with age, I still have two more... If anyone would like a Belgo Anise version, please let me know!!! What happened to Stone brews setting the pace for the rest of the West Coast? Close to a drain pour...

chugalug06, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of mkotsayfan
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a dark black with a nice mocha head. The aroma just blasts you with chocolate and coffee, along with some dark fruits and malts. The taste is just fantastic...malts, chocolate come first and follows up with some coffee. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a silky smoothness and creaminess.

This is one heck of a RIS, Stone nailed it. Some beers do well with just the taste or just the aroma, but this one kills it from the look, aroma, and taste. Can't wait to try my earlier vintages ('07 and '08) somewhere down the line.

mkotsayfan, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of ColdPoncho
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage

A - Dark as the blackest of nights with a moderate amount of dark brown head.

S - Molasses, dark roasted malts, touch of booze, smoked meats/tanned leather.

T - Big. Chocolate and dark fruits, dark roasted malts, general darkness.

M - Big and smooth as hell. Robust.

O - This was a super good and super big stout; it's great how easy it is to get. Can't wait to see how it ages!

ColdPoncho, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of coldriver
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a Sam Adams glass. Pours opaque black with two finger tan head, lacing is lacking for an RIS. Mocha and coffee aroma. Taste notes of mocha, espresso, licorice, and dark fruit. Thick mouthfeel but smoother aftertaste then you often get with this style. Alchohol well hidden. Overall this is a smooth complex flavored RIS.

coldriver, Oct 15, 2011
Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

One of my first Russian Imperials, but I never reviewed it...guess its about time.

Like the reviewer below me, I also picked up a growler of this from Whole Foods - Bowery. Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a deep near-black with a slowly dropping latte-coloured head.

S: Dark chocolate notes are strongest with a generous helping of roast and bitter-bones hops.

T: It melts in the mouth like a luxurious 80% cacoa chocolate bar. Hop balance is keen and slightly piney. Roast notes are more subdued than I remember and the finish is clean and crisp, like a Black DIPA.

D: Just nails drinkability. I remember drinking this long before my palate had adjusted for higher ABV brews. Even back then I marveled at how well it hid the alcohol. Mouthfeel is nice and heavy, but honestly, could be a bit thicker. It doesn't have that "coat your mouth" thickness of some stouts.

Overall: After all the RIS that I've tried, this is still a top-notch brew. It is one of the benchmarks for the "American-Russian Imperial Stout" category and combined with its availability, affordability and reliability, it is a true classic. The SNPA of RIS.

JohnnyChicago, Oct 12, 2011
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Stone 2011 Imperial Russian Stout, 32-oz growler bought at Whole Foods Bowery in NYC for $6.99.

Appearance: Quite impressive! Thick, oily pour, total darkness, magnificent two-finger head of a cafe-con-leche color that lasts. Expected more lacing, but oh well.

Smell: Mostly smoke, country ham. Roastiness, a little dairy. Alright but quite one-dimensional.

Taste: Again the smoke is the biggest presence, followed by some run-of-the-mill dark chocolate, a coffee bite and sugar. Liquorice, dirty chimney and hops at the end of the sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium-to-full flavor, carbonation on the low side. Creamy and rich, with a very dry finish that had me begging for water. It started out real good, but the growler soon lost carbonation and became rather flat (in only two hours!)

Overall: It scores a little better because it is quite drinkable, and the hefty ABV is not detectable. But this is not the best version of Stone IRS/RIS I remember. Too much smoke, not enough excitement... it didn't wow me.

DoubleSimcoe, Oct 12, 2011
Photo of zhanson88
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This vintage 2008 bottle was generously included as an extra in a trade with thewimperoo. Much appreciated! Really looking forward to trying one of these with some age on it.

Appearance: Pours out very dark brown and appears pitch black in the glass. About 3/4" of dark mocha head forms, that has some retention and limited lacing. Just a ring around the edges of the glass remains after the head reduces.

Smell: Roasted malts in abundance here, with some coffee and bitter dark chocolate as well. After 3 years the hops have most certainly faded on this one. Some coconut comes out too. Pretty much your standard RIS smell....solid, but not spectacular.

Taste: Roasted malts, coconut, some coffee character as well as bitter chocolate. Again a very solid RIS with all the requisite flavors. Something that I could drink pretty regularly.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Full bodied with fairly low carbonation. Pretty slick; good in this category. I would call this a very solid imperial stout. I've had this once before (2010 version) that I remember enjoying more....seemed more balanced overall. Seems like fresher could be the way to go with this brew. But I definitely still enjoyed it and would have it again.

zhanson88, Oct 10, 2011
Photo of mulder1010
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage
Poured into a tulip

A-- Poured jet black, nice looking light brown head that grew to one finger before going to film. Good retention early on. No lacing.

S-- Big, thick baking chocolate, roasted malts, and coffee. Really took on a nose that seemed to me of oak. Really blended together well and had the nose of a beer than had been on wood.

T-- Dark chocolate, baking chocolate and coffee. Big in your face taste. Hops had dropped off and the malts had really taken over.

M-- Big, rich and dry. Very dry baking chocolate and coco powder finish. Had enough carbonation up front to smooth out the chocolate up front. No trace of alcohol at all in the mouth. Just chocolate. Big body and low carbonation

O-- Not as cake like big as say Marshall Z is but this was big in feel. Big chocolate bomb in this. Glad I cellared this for a year. Long cellaring does wonders with this. One of the better US seasonal RIS out there and a great bang for the buck.

mulder1010, Oct 08, 2011
Photo of rhong187
3.58/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

on tap, served in a tulip

A - black and viscous

S- roasted malts, chocolate, a bit of alcohol

T - follows the aroma, quite bitter and boozy. much more appealing as it warms.

M - medium bodied, low carbonation

I don't know if I'd order this one again, as it was just average. Detected way too much alcohol, which made it a bit difficult to finish

rhong187, Oct 07, 2011
Photo of Treebs
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle shared in line at the CBS release. 2010 vintage. Poured into my Deschutes snifter.

A: Typical black pour with slight dark brown edges where the light hits. Chocolate head that leaves a some subtle lace.

S: Smells of chocolate, slight coffee and some roasted malts.

T: Taste follows the nose. Nice chocolate with a little bit of roast from the malts and nice subtle coffee.

M: Nicely carbonated and there is some smooth chocoalte and a slight bitter roast left on the palate.

O: Great bang for you buck. With some age on it it really does wonders. Can't wait to pop open the 2008 I have.

Treebs, Oct 06, 2011
Photo of s1ckboy
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Back as per usual for an IRS. Nice smallish head.

S - Chocolate, coffee.

T - Chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, anise (which stands out more after having the Anise version). One of the more bitter IRS I've had.

M - Full. Coats the mouth.

O - Decent IRS. Not my favorite on account of it being more on the bitter side. It's a bit better on tap.

s1ckboy, Oct 05, 2011
Photo of SWMeyer4141
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Recently haven't been enjoying Big Imperial Stouts then I thoguht. They've been a little thin and sour. Not exactly sure whats wrong w/ me or if the beer is bad. Figured I'd open up something good and see If I'm okay or not.

52 Degrees straight from fridge. Poured into my wife's Red Wine Glass.

Appearance-Black as shit. Head is a frothy tan head, about 1 finger. Dissipates quickly as expected leaving some minimal lacing.

Smell-Very roasty with some light booze. Some coffee and dark chocolate bitterness, as long as some smooth milky chocolate. A little bit subtle.

Taste-Upfront sweet malts and chocolate. Molasses, Syrup, and some Dark Fruits. Clean, smooth finish. Just a perfectly balanced beers on so many levels and the beer is 10.5%!

Mouthfeel-Medium to High body, smooth, creamy, vevelty. Carbonation is on the lower end, but it let the flavors shine.

Overall-So this beer isn't too hard to get when it comes out, it's a super RARE beer. It's about 6 to 8 bucks, and it's fucking delicious. A true winner and I WILL be buying a case of the 2012 next summer.

SWMeyer4141, Oct 05, 2011
Photo of vandemonian
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stone Imperial Russian Stout is a nice RIS but is not among the best in this category. I had a fresh batch, so maybe it gets better with age.

A: Black colour and a 5 mm tan head that fades to decent lacing. 4

S: Malty with a little black smokiness. 4

T: Malty with a little bit of vegemite tang that you get from beers who's yeast has autolyzed. Smooth aftertaste. Very slight cocoa bitterness. 4

M: Foamy and smooth. 4.5

O: Nice, but not among the best Russian imperial stouts. 4

vandemonian, Sep 27, 2011
Photo of russwbeck
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Doing a side by side with Stone IRS 2010 and 2011 on 9/26/11

A: They look exactly the same. Light-er brown pours with a big light brown head. Retention is great and the lacing down the side of my Stone IRS glasses is very nice. 4

S: A ton of malts on both versions, but the 2010 has a stronger malt nutiness. The 2011 is full of chocolate instead. A very light hoppiness coming through on both. The 2011 has a bit more of a balanced smell. Although neither are mind boggling. 3.5

T: The taste of the 2011 is much more robust than the 2010, which seems to have thinned out a bit. Tons of chocolate, subtle maltiness, some roasty flavors and a dry finish. 4

MF: Full and heavy body. Like I said before the 2010 is a bit more thin. They are both carbonated very well. 4.5

O: I thought this was going to be better. The 2011 is clearly the better of the two, but neither are over the top delicious. They are both solid, and I would recommend them to anyone, but top notch? No. 4

2011 IRS and Belgo Anise IRS side by side on 9/29/12, roughly one year later.

A: Black pour, about as black as it gets with a really large dark brown head. Billowing up, the head sticks around forever and laces really nicely. 4.5

S: The roast of the aroma is wonderful and really surprising considering the age. Deep chocolate underneath with molasses and perhaps some licorice (or maybe dark fruits). Either way, it's impressive and I can't stop taking whiffs as I drink. 4.5

T: The taste is really mellowed, and at points I'd say it's a bit watery. Smooth, rich chocolate and molasses that's followed by some roasted malts and finished by a very slight amount of booze. Really not a lot at all, just enough to know it's there. Really well balanced, but not as impressive as I was hoping for. Solid overall, I'd recommend you age this and see what you think! 4

MF: Thick, velvety smooth on the palate. The booze is cut really well both by the mellow beer and roast. The dry finish keeps me coming back for more. Pretty drinkable for a 10% Russian Imperial Stout. 4

O: This was great, reminded me how good of a beer this is. This was clearly better than the Belgo Anise, which I just don't really like at all. Hope to pick up a 2012 next time I see it! 4

russwbeck, Sep 26, 2011
Photo of StarshipPoopers
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Release

A - Opaque black with a foamy mocha head. About a finger's worth of head with great retention. Great lacing, lines the glass in chunks. Appealing looking stout.

S - The nose on this release doesn't seem as pronounced as the older years that I had. Faint traces of coffee and roasted malts, with just a touch of chocolate sweetness.

T - Dark fruits (figs, blackcurrant) come through first, with a slightly muted sweetness. This quickly leads into roasted malts and bittersweet dark chocolate with a very faint touch of dark roasted coffee. There is also a backbone of hops that peek through in the finish when the sweetness subsides. Quite a bit of booziness, even when it's still slightly cool.

M - Medium carbonation. Not too heavy or light, just a nice balance in the middle. Drinks quite nicely.

O - I've had a few of the past releases and remember the anise being much more pronounced. This release seems to have toned it down a lot, since I didn't even taste it. Anyways, the differences between the releases are nice, and this is definitely a repeat purchase. I always pick up a bottle whenever I see it.


StarshipPoopers, Sep 24, 2011
Photo of CheezyBlaster
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is now my favorite stout and one of my all-time favorite beers!

Solid black/brown deeply opaque with an attractive and abundant choco-highlighted tan head.

Here we go: Smells like . . . coffee syrup, malt candy (whoppers), licorice/fennel root, and slightly of dried dark fruits (figs). Probably the most complex nose of the beers I've tried. Sooo much going on. Could spend a while sniffing.

Alcohol is clearly present, let's get that straight, but at 10.5% it's hard not to feel it. Malt comes through absolutely beautifully with some warm and molasses-sweetened shortbread. Excellent acidity and mild carbonation bite. Dark, semi-sweet chocolates come through especially as it warms. Tiny hops bitter the fringe, but could be forgotten with everything going on.

What can I say? Best feel ever. A creamy, smooth, consistent, full, and warm body overtakes your senses competing with the actual taste for your attention/affection.

One tiny drawback keeps it from being my first A+; it has that sort of mild copper/dirty penny tinge on some swigs, which detracts only incidentally from the experience. That sort of alkaline/acidic stinger. Also, the sheer robustness of character coupled with the ABV precludes me from drinking more than a bomber's worth of this beast.

Final word: I can't believe something this damned good is so readily available!!!

CheezyBlaster, Sep 24, 2011
Photo of shortbus7
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served into a pint glass from a 22oz bottle.

A: This beer is pitch black with a mocha/khaki colored head. This beer lets no light through.

S: This smells fantastic. So much going on. Some chocolate, malted barley, molases, coffee, and some minor hints of some dark fruits.

T: Coffee and chocolate are the front runners here. Not strong or overpowering, but just right. Dark malt is there and just the right amount of bitterness. Very well balanced.

M: This beer is very smooth and creamy.

O: A very good beer for being such highly produced. Worth every penny.

shortbus7, Sep 21, 2011
Photo of Hamsteroceros
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My umpteenth 2011 bomber in its own gorgeous eponymous glass.

I'm not going to bother with the standard ASTMO review on this one. It's good. REALLY good. SOOO good.

It's bold, dark, and handsome. It has a gorgeous head that recedes slowly and laces nicely. Oh so very black. Flavor-wise, it is devastatingly complex. Coffee, fig, maybe prune, HOPS (!), chocolate, roasted malt, very slight breadiness... HOPS! So very well-balanced.

SOOOO good. For a beer with a production volume as high is this one, this is a truly an incomparable brew. A grade of "A" almost undervalues this beer. Thank you, Stone!

Hamsteroceros, Sep 20, 2011
Photo of olimpia84
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at the Dunedin Brewery, served on a Pint glass.

A: this beer has the darkest shade of brown you will find, it's pretty much black in color. Delicious two finger light brown colored creamy head. Decent brown colored lacing was left throughout the glass.

S: it was a bit mute and hard to come by. From what I could tell there was the obvious roasted and dark malts and coffee aromas, common of the style.

T: starts with some sweetness on the palate followed by the taste of roasted malts and dark chocolate. Ends with coffee bitterness.

M: heavenly smooth and creamy feel in this full bodied beer that completely disguise the alcohol in it with medium carbonation.

O: I was pleasantly surprised by this beer which is an excellent Imperial Stout that shines for its smoothness and solid taste. Perfect pairing for desserts!

olimpia84, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of MattyG85
4.93/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a snifter glass. 2011 bottle.

Appearance: Dark oily black with a decent two finger tan head that within a couple minutes fades into a patchy tan layer. Decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Rich dark toasted caramel malts, dark chocolate, and coffee with some strong hints of dark fruits and molasses. Also some hints of anise, vanilla, and brown sugar. Aroma is fairly strong on the fruit and anise.

Taste: Starts with the dark roasted caramel and toffee malts along with dark chocolate, molasses, and a strong presence of dark fruit that includes some figs and plums. The notes of coffee come in midway adding some light bitterness. A decent presence of anise lingers throughout. Light hint of earthy hops in the finish. Sweet for a RIS but pretty well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a light to medium amount of carbonation. Very creamy and smooth with no alcohol heat detected.

Overall: A very good take on a Russian Imperial Stout. Good balance among the malts, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits. Goes down incredibly smooth for such a big beer.

MattyG85, Sep 14, 2011
Photo of titosupertramp
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage.

A: This is about as dark as it gets; completely opaque. Even when held to light, there's no brown to be found(in certain circles, I'd make a dirty joke here..anyway). Fairly thick, mocha colored head with lots of texture. Fades leaving an attractive film and decent lacing.

S: Surprisingly enough, dark fruit and molasses is what hits me first. Roasted malt, dark chocolate and a bit of coffee.

T: This is a really tasty beer, especially once it's in the 60-65 degree range. Molasses, roasted malts, chocolate, biscuit, figs(?), nutty, just a hint of alcohol and a semi-bitter finish.

M: Rich, creamy and smooth.

O: This is a really enjoyable beer and one I'm glad that's easily available in my area. Stone is widely regarded as one of the best brewers in the US and this beer is a terrific example of why that is.

titosupertramp, Sep 10, 2011
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,928 ratings.