1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

6,794 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,794
Reviews: 2,575
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 504
Gots: 1,468 | FT: 84
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,794 | Reviews: 2,575 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of scootpolute
scootpolute

Texas

4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

1 Pint, 6 FL OZ. bottle from the 2011, "Classic Release" into tulip glass.

A - Pours solid black, with supprisingly thin brown head...I was expecting a larger full head?!Although...some great lacing...

S - Strong coffee-chocolate...mocha, with some spicy sweetness thrown in the mix!

T - BOOM!!!No doubt a full/hard core beer here!...Perhaps the sweet/spicy smell comes from a currant/plum like flavour...a chocolate/coffee lovers dream...I can see why many are impressed with this one...SO GOOD!!!

M (feel)- Great carbonation, I disagree with an earlier critic who mentioned little carbo...For a 'stout,' just right (actually siding on the heavier carbos for a stout!)...like the fullness....Perfect beer for a cloudy, showery, Seattle-Summer (June 2fn'4th) Day!!!

D - No complaints...Yum!
Serving type: bottle

By the way my, response to this guy:
"At 7.99 for a bomber in a market where you should expect to spend over 10 for a bomber of anything and much more for an imperial stout, this is an amazing deal."
***Perhaps it was on sale, you saved two bucks...Now you can go by yourself a butt-wiper!!

06-24-2011 18:44:52 | More by scootpolute
Photo of FARGO619
FARGO619

California

5/5  rDev +15.2%

This one is on my TOP TEN beers that I can just walk to any store nearby and get. So glad it is available for me.

A: Jet black with mocha head

S: Dark burnt coffee, chocolate, roasty, oaky, charcoal, mocha, sweet.

T: Dark and roasty coffee with a big bang of chocolate, strong on the palate as it goes down. Tried drinking one on my own...it's better to share.

OVERALL: A effin plus. Love this beer. I have tried 'll, '10, '09. '07

BOTTLE: 22oz.

06-24-2011 14:18:16 | More by FARGO619
Photo of Satchboogie
Satchboogie

New Hampshire

4.22/5  rDev -2.8%

22oz bottle (2010 vintage) poured into a balloon tulip

A: Pours pitch black with just over a finger of frothy mocha-brown head. No light is getting through this.

S: Huge dark chocolate, espresso, caramel (almost like licorice, almost), a sort of vinous or dark fruit like aroma in the background, some of which is likely from the remaining hop presence.

T: Follows the nose with an absolute ton of roasted malt. Dark chocolate and a combination of roasted and hop bitterness on the front of the tongue, lots of caramel (that licorice-like sweetness too) and malt depth in them middle of tongue. There's a tiny touch of dark fruits (dark oak cherry mostly) with a little alcohol presence at the back of the mouth in the finish. There is still a good bit of hop bitterness on the finish with lingering heavy roasted quality (borderline char).

M: Thick and chewy, though not quite BCBS thick. Smooth and creamy. Carbonation is a little bit on the high side for the style with more tingling through to the finish than I'd normally expect.

O: I had fairly lofty expectations going into this, but also realized that I shouldn't put it up against the BCBS of the world. I got what I expected, a very well crafted RIS with a lot of similarities to the Yeti. Huge chocolate, good amount of sweetness, a little alcohol warmth in the back of mouth, well balanced, no off flavors, and the hop presence is at a minimum at this point. It's less than amazing, but probably more than just great. For it's price point, there aren't many better.

06-23-2011 02:16:15 | More by Satchboogie
Photo of inlimbo77
inlimbo77

Delaware

4.28/5  rDev -1.4%

2010 vintage on tap at Deer Park tavern in Newark, DE during ACBW 2011. Served in the DFH signature glass, 8oz pour.

A: pours motor oil black with a thin tan head, no light getting through this one, alcohol legs and lacing abound, this is boozy stuff, served cold but smells more pronounced as it warmed up

S: notes of coffee, caramel, and chocolate, delicious malts, roasted malts are the backbone here, great smells

T: served way too cold on draft but what can you do, deep roasted malt flavors, espresso, dark chocolate, dark cherries, everything you invision in an RIS, great but could be better with some more age

M: full bodied stout, coats the mouth completely, even more filling as it warms up

O: this is an amazing beer from a great brewery, the price tag and ease in access make it even better, any way you name it RIS or IRS it's a great brew!

06-22-2011 17:03:57 | More by inlimbo77
Photo of Janderson91
Janderson91

Alabama

4.03/5  rDev -7.1%

2011 Vintage served just below room temperature into a snifter. Enjoyed on 06/21/11.

A - Pours pitch black, nice and thick. A large two finger tan head forms and recedes pretty quickly. Leaves good lacing. A good looking beer for sure.

S - Coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate and alcohol. Maybe some vanilla present as well.

T - Very similar to the aroma. Balance of chocolatey sweetness and the bitterness of the coffee and roasted malts. Finishes with a good vanilla and roasty flavor. Good stuff.

M - Mouthfeel is just about right on. Nice and thick in the middle. Maybe just a hair too much carbonation.

O - Overall, I love this beer. One of my favorite breweries as well.

06-22-2011 00:36:31 | More by Janderson91
Photo of Krakistophales
Krakistophales

California

4/5  rDev -7.8%

A: Pours jet black with a finger of caramel colored head that recedes into a thin film

S: Dark, roasty coffee, a creamy sweetness like caramel or pastry cream, and alcohol.

T: An initial hit of sweetness, followed by a middle that turns into a thick, roasty coffee flavor with some touches of malts and caramel, and a heavy finish of slight hops and double espresso.

M: Thick, viscous, oily, great carbonation.

O: A nice example of the style, though it doesn't have enough of a unique characteristic to it for me to fall in love with it. Still, a great buy if you want to try a nice RIS.

06-20-2011 04:07:51 | More by Krakistophales
Photo of JayS2629
JayS2629

Alabama

4.4/5  rDev +1.4%

Dark black with a creamy tan head that fades slowly leaving creamy rings of thick lace. The smell is of dark chocolate, cream, vanilla, and nice roasted malts, coffee whifs and spicy, earthy hops in the back.

The taste follows with creamy milk chocolates dominating over a roasted coffee, mocha flavor. Flavors layer with a hint of liquor, a touch of vanilla and caramel, black pepper, and some spicy, herbal hops that melts away.

Creamy, smooth, full bodied. Awesome well balanced stout.

06-19-2011 22:27:31 | More by JayS2629
Photo of Azurescens
Azurescens

Washington

3.6/5  rDev -17.1%

22oz bottle, 2011 batch, poured into snifter, reviewed on 6/18/11.

A: Pours black with light brown head that leaves some lacing around glass.

S: Dark malts, alcohol and some herbal hops.

T: Roasted barley, dark malts, alcohol, some chocolate and herbal hops with a fair amount of hop bitterness to keep all of the malt in check.

M: Some sharpness up front from the hop bitterness, full bodied with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel improves a bit as this warms up and loses some carbonation.

O: Overall this is a pretty good Russian imperial stout, nothing special, but not bad by any means. Standard dark malt with hints of hops, but lacks the nice chocolate and coffee notes that I like in a big stout.

06-19-2011 04:24:52 | More by Azurescens
Photo of zac16125
zac16125

South Carolina

3.9/5  rDev -10.1%

2011 Classic Release
22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass

A: Pours an opaque, pitch-black with 2 and a half fingers width of dense khaki colored head. The head dissipated slowly to a thick film, which is present for most of the drink, but only leaves a small amount of lacing.

S: Strong aromas of espresso, and a campfire-esque smokiness. Roasted malts, and hints of vanilla and chocolate. Excellent aroma.

T: The first sip is packed with the smoky flavor that was present in the smell, as well as a strong spicy character, which I can’t identify and definitely didn’t expect. Roasted malts are certainly present, which is typical, however, the standard burnt and earthy malt flavors that dominate so many stouts aren’t as prevalent , so that, along with the aroma, make this beer unique. Espresso flavors are present, but not nearly as strong as the aroma, which is disappointing, and there are some mild hints of chocolate. This beer has the potential to be fantastic, however, the main problem was its inability to hide the high alcohol content. The alcohol was not necessarily overwhelming, but close to it, and although the roasted malt flavors came though, it seems like a lot of the subtle flavors and complexities couldn’t really be appreciated and were masked by the heavy, dominating alcohol characters.

M/D: Thick, almost chewy in the mouth. Pretty heavily carbonated for a RIS. Certainly a beer that has to be drank slowly, the main reason being the faster you drink it the more the alcohol characters dominate the flavor.

O: Overall, I’m not really sure how I feel about this beer. It looks good, smells great, and has very good flavors in the early initial and on the finish of the beer. Unfortunately, the majority of the drink is held hostage by the inability to hide the high ABV. It certainly doesn’t ruin the beer, but it does make a potentially excellent beer, simple good.

06-19-2011 03:24:45 | More by zac16125
Photo of Allpe45
Allpe45

Arizona

3.95/5  rDev -9%

On tap at Papago
Appears pitch black with a short but dense light brown head, leaves bits of lacing.
Smells like smoke and roasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate.
Bitter burnt coffee flavor is most prominent when sipping. It subsides and roasted malt shine through, along with dark chocolate, a little bit of malty sweetness followed by a warm, bitter finish. Medium bodied for the style, with low but active carbonation. I'm not sure if it's the batch, the serving style, or just the age, but this was not as good as I normally expect from Stone IRS.

06-18-2011 03:55:00 | More by Allpe45
Photo of dantheman13
dantheman13

Nevada

4.2/5  rDev -3.2%

2011 vintage.

A: Pours a black motor oil, very thick and black with zero light coming through. The head that forms from a decent pour is quite impressive. Its a good three fingers in my tulip glass. The color of the head is a deep, rich khaki color. Quite beautiful really. The head dissipated quickly down to about a half finger, which lingered throughout my sipping session.

S: Wow, what a beautiful smell on this beer. It smells like a cafe mocha, or a coffee house that has been grinding coffee along with chocolate. This aroma is rich straight off of the pour, and then the roasted aromas start to sneak up. I really dig the aroma on this IRS.

T: For a non-barrel aged IRS, this has a pleasant flavor. Lots of roasted and coffee notes when served chilled. As the beer warms, a well crafted roasted flavor appears. There is a little bit of a hop bite to this stout, perhaps more than other IRS's I have had. The roasted notes and the slight bitterness linger in the mouth after drinking. There is a slight bit of sweetness at the front, but really this is a very dry IRS compared to some others. Still, there is little to no detection of alcohol until the beer warms up to room temperature.

M: Mouthfeel is good, but not as rich and creamy as I have had in other IRS's, particularly barrel aged ones. Perhaps some aging (in the bottle) would improve this. Still, the beer coats the tongue nicely, just not as well as other beers that I have had. Perhaps the dryness of this beer should be appreciated for its own merit though.

O: This is an excellent IRS, and perhaps the best I have had that isn't barrel aged. The aroma is really something to experience, and really impressed me. I wish this beer was available year round so that I could make it my go-to IRS.

06-18-2011 03:35:52 | More by dantheman13
Photo of rdilauro
rdilauro

Connecticut

4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

One of the richest darkest pours of a stout I have seen. Jet black with almost zero head.
It had a perfect smell. Chocolate, coffee, burnt vanilla and so much more.
Everything was perfect until the taste. While it was quite enjoyable , it was a bit over the top, almost too much in the taste, too much of almost everything.
That sort of deterred my overall rating of this beer. While it was so very good, it was somewhat less than I anticipated

06-18-2011 01:36:42 | More by rdilauro
Photo of AnPiobaire
AnPiobaire

New York

4.13/5  rDev -4.8%

This review is of the 2011 Stone I.R.S. I finally found the classic release here on Long Island after enduring the Belgo Anise onslaught.

This brew poured a rich dark brown/black with a thin caramel head that receded but never left.

The nose is rich in maltiness and has strong notes of espresso and cocoa.

The taste is nice and bold. The way a Russian imperial stout should be. This is what I was hoping for and didn't get out of the Belgo Anise. The roastiness slowly subsides to a nice subtle bitter finish.

The mouthfeel is nice and chewy and has good carbonation for an imperial stout.

Overall this is a delightful example of an imperial stout and I can only hope that I can find more then the three bottles I was able to find. Enjoy!!!

06-17-2011 21:33:12 | More by AnPiobaire
Photo of d4114
d4114

California

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

IRS 2011 6-12-11

A- Pours very thick; Pitch black with a thick light brown head

S- Coffee, dark fruits, chocolate and alcohol; Very complex but very pungent

T- Really smooth; big coffee notes, chocolate, some vanilla and a pretty big sweetness in the back that you are left with. Good amount of bitterness in there to balance it out.

M- Full bodied but super smooth and creamy without being too
heavy.

O- Smooth almost on a whiskey level ; Huge complex flavors, can't go wrong here.

06-17-2011 19:06:59 | More by d4114
Photo of mrkun
mrkun

California

4.03/5  rDev -7.1%

A: Expected black with tan head.

S: Strong roasted malt character and coffee are present.

T: The taste follows the nose being dominated by roasted malts, also some coffee and chocolate. Coffee especially present in the finish.

M: Light carbonation with a medium body, fairly smooth, and minimal heat.

O: Another solid imperial stout from stone at a very attractive price point.

06-17-2011 06:59:11 | More by mrkun
Photo of SundaySour
SundaySour

California

4.13/5  rDev -4.8%

A: Rich and dark with only a tiny, tiny rim of foam on the edge. It grapes could be dark brown, this would be the color of a brown grape wine.

S: Smell is initially a little off-putting, sort of like that rare coffee made from pre-digested coffee beans in that "cat" animal poop (yes, I've had that). So coffee and a little..earthy. Maybe like an espresso and some damp wood mixed together.

T: The taste is like peppered jerky; sweet and tangy with a smoky smell in the nose. There is no bitterness at all, just a nice meaty flavor. The finish reminds me a little bit of hot dogs cooked over a campfire. With the initial coffee smell, this is a "cowboy" campfire kind of beer. Me and my hoss Silver just had a three-course meal on the lone range, fo sho.

M: Nice and thick in the mouth, almost creamy. Not fizzy at all, but not the thickest or oiliest beer I've ever had.

O: This is a yummy beer. I thought it would be stronger because of the initial "earthy" smell, but the whole experience was like that magical gum in Willy Wonka that made Violet turn into a giant blueberry...What I'm trying to say was, this beer tastes like a series of good foods. Highly recommend.

06-17-2011 03:51:43 | More by SundaySour
Photo of beagle75
beagle75

Iowa

3.73/5  rDev -14.1%

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.
2010 vintage

A: Opaque black, with less than one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Roasted malt is aggressively positioned in the center of the smell, with hints of chocolate, wood smoke, and fruity pipe tobacco. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with dynamic roast that shows off balanced coffee, wood smoke, anise, and dark fruit. Acidity peaks early, but then behaves. Earthiness persists through the middle as aromatic flavors lose a little traction, but a slight sweetness persists. The finish sees a drying trend, with some fairly intense herbaceous bitterness developing. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, acidic and warming on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: After North Coast's Old Rasputin, Stone's Spring seasonal imperial stout is one of the more common, approachable, and affordable renditions of the style available in the bottle. It offers the hallmark qualities of an imperial stout, but is doubly harsh on the palate due to acidity and booziness. At one year old this beer doesn't have the freshly-hopped qualities of a new bottle, but smoke and dark fruit are more pronounced.

06-17-2011 03:00:58 | More by beagle75
Photo of Stretch270
Stretch270

California

4.22/5  rDev -2.8%

Served in a stone tulip glass from a 1pt 6fl oz bottle.

Appearance - coffee brown in as light as you could call the appearance of the beer. It has foamy colored head like the laatte you get at Starbucks

Smell - from the strength of the appearance I actually expected a stronger smell especially coming from Stone. the overall smell is alcoholic with some chocolate and coffee. You also get a strong sense of anise, even though this wasn't the anise version of their IRS.

Taste - the flavor is anything but light in the 2011 version. As with the smell, the anise, coffee and chocolate that is not out of the ordinary when it comes to IRS, certainly is not what stands out, but the strength of the flavors certainly does. It is strong and if that is not your style when it comes to stouts this one might not be for you. But if you are looking for a light stout then you might be looking for the wrong thing anyway,

Mouthfeel - heavy heavy heavy certainly would be the word i would use to describe to describe the mouthfeel. My tongue got q serious workout trying to hole the beer up in my mouth. That said, it is exactly what stone advertises.

Overall - I think this is a great example of what an IRS is supposed to be. It is dark, full of flavor especially from some serious malt, with a nice hint of anise tossed in for good measure. I am sure there are better IRS out there, but I haven't had them.

06-16-2011 05:02:40 | More by Stretch270
Photo of Franch
Franch

New York

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

well it's a big stout. shockingly drinkable for how big the stout is - clearing 10.5% ABV without a hint of being hot until it warms up a bit. it's lighter than a lot of russian imperial stouts i have had, but not too light as to be problematic. i have heard this stout be considered the "benchmark" for russian imperial stouts (in the same way samuel smith's oatmeal stout is for that kind of beer) and i can definitely see why.

06-16-2011 04:57:58 | More by Franch
Photo of samie85
samie85

Illinois

4.6/5  rDev +6%

Reviewed from notes; originally 6/13.

Spring 2009 Release.

A-Pours midnight black with two and a half fingers of mocha head.

S-Smells of deep dark and milk chocolate with dark fruit notes, vanilla, and sweet alcohol notes.

T-Roasted and dark chocolate notes with vanilla and bitter herbal and dark chocolate on the finish.

M-Light side of thick-bodied with low carbonation and a drying finish.

D-Very easy drinking for the ABV and a very delicious stout. This will definitely be a go to RIS for me in the future at a decent price-point.

06-16-2011 02:05:11 | More by samie85
Photo of ksimons
ksimons

New York

4.65/5  rDev +7.1%

A-pours a thick inky brown-black with a bit of tan lacing around the edge

S-smells of chocolate, roasted coffee, roasted malts, molasses, and a hint of alcohol

T-Sweet melted chocolate, roasted malts, and molasses starts out the taste and then some bitter hops and roasted coffee finishes it out. Truly amazing. Alcohol becomes more apparent as the beer warms up.

M-full body with a bit of syrupy coating, light carbonation

Overall one of the best RIS I have ever had, taste is amazing and the mouthfeel and body are just right

06-15-2011 23:46:15 | More by ksimons
Photo of Trilogy31
Trilogy31

California

4.18/5  rDev -3.7%

2011 vintage pours a pitch black with a thick two fingers of espresso crema colored head with sticky curtains left in its wake. Nose has some sweet vanilla chocolate, dark roasted coffee, baking spices and roasted malt. Taste brings molasses, bitter coffee, dark roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate and almost a ytannic quality. Nice carbonation and the abv is not very noticeable but i do find this to be almost astrigent slightly hurting its performance at the finish.

06-15-2011 03:31:30 | More by Trilogy31
Photo of slaphappysnark
slaphappysnark

California

3.8/5  rDev -12.4%

Opaque, black, with a short-lived golden-tan head. Not a ton of aroma, but I like what I get. Flavor is nice and roasty, with a dry and boozy, slightly bitter, finish. Light carbonation is just right.

Poured out of a bottle on a hot day, so not ideal glassware and pretty much went from too cold to too warm for me pretty quickly. Still definitely enjoyed and will track down again.

06-15-2011 02:31:13 | More by slaphappysnark
Photo of Klym
Klym

California

4.43/5  rDev +2.1%

Poured from a 750ml bottle into an oversized wine glass.

A: Pours a deep black with a darkest-of-purples shine that transitions into a medium, quickly fading, brown head. Definitely an enticing appearance for any lover of RIS.

S: Bitter dark chocolate, wet wood, black pepper, a hint of black licorice a slight tang haunting the overall character. Wonderfully aromatic and not a smell in it that doesn't remind me of something I love.

T: Distinct from the nose but equally pleasing. Touches of dark chocolate, barbecue sauce and black licorice all come forth from a background that I can only describe as a char more similar to the golden-browned underside of a delicious piece of pizza than a burnt piece of wood. Aftertaste is sweet and savory, fading gradually enough to give my mouth plenty of time to say a sad goodbye.

M: Truly excellent viscocity, making it feel like you're drinking silk. Carbonation may be a little lower than what would be optimal, but any deficiency in that department is overpowered by the awesomeness of the rest of the mouth feel.

O: Every time I have this beer it seems a little more special to me. So distinctly an RIS but also terribly unique and without any of the typical pitfalls of RIS. A drink I hope to revisit multiple times over years to come. Easily one of Stone's best contributions to any style.

06-14-2011 23:48:26 | More by Klym
Photo of Sensaray
Sensaray

Massachusetts

4.58/5  rDev +5.5%

Pours full bubbly tan head with deep dark brown body. Head dissipates steadily and fairly quickly.

Coffee, chocolate and the anise aromas all come through clearly. Its sweet and somewhat bready kinda like sugar cookies at times. Good smell here. Hops a little.

Wow deliciously complex. Spiciness hits first, then the coffee appears, finishing well into a very tasty darker chocolate flavor that all mixes harmoniously into the finish. Some resiny fruit is here too, like light raisinets with coffee. The finish has some hoppiness to it. Good spiciness throughout. Chocolate>coffee

Smooth heavy bodied feel. Alcohol never bothersome. Spicy yet sweet but balanced.

Excellent beer. Just like most other Stone brews.

06-14-2011 05:33:22 | More by Sensaray
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,794 ratings.