Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 6,786 | Reviews: 2,574 | Display Reviews Only:
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
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
4.2/5 rDev -3.2%
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
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
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
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
O- Smooth almost on a whiskey level ; Huge complex flavors, can't go wrong here.
06-17-2011 19:06:59 | More by d4114
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
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
3.73/5 rDev -14.1%
Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
4.33/5 rDev -0.2%
2011 750ml bottle into an Oversized Wine Glass.
A: dark bubbles rest soundly on the plateau of black ink. Rick James would concur with calling this beer the darkness. Makes me want to grab my quill pen and write on parchment. Always a good sign with an IRS.
S: droplets of vanilla extract on salted meats, prepared with a crust of some decent ground coffee. The alcohol makes you think you're smelling too much vanilla, but then the bitter coco powder reminds you that this is a brewski. A chain reaction occurs: Nose tells brain to sip.
T: The first sip of toffee eventually coats the mouth in compounding layers of chocolate melting over an open fire. your brain decides that this chocolate needs a pairing: the beer replies with creamy coffee. Chocolate is the star here though, and the coffee accepts its role as sidekick. Chocolate Batman, Coffee Robin. They battle to hold down the salty Carmel vanillain. Much goes on in this glass of Gotham.
M: Carbonation is low, but it's there. It feels very light in the mouth, and it's unexpected considering the amount of flavor. It's a deceptive mouthfeel (the work of the vanillain, no doubt). The beer looks so dark and tastes so big, you expect it to be like motor oil in your mouth. However, it is silky and delicate. It begs to be swallowed on contact, and leaves specter of carbonation.
O: Stone Brewing does impress me here, the thought that this was going to disappear in the "odd" year release of the belgo version makes me teary eyed. This is way too good to be gone for extended period of time. I would say of their many offerings, this has got to be one of the biggest ships in their fleet. Barrel aged variations of this boat could yield a whale for many years to come. Highly enjoyable IRS with a drinkability that is taste driven. Impressive and worthy of revisits. be sure to check the bottle to remind yourself this is a 10.5% ABV beverage. it's there, don't deny it.
06-14-2011 04:20:50 | More by Cavery
4.43/5 rDev +2.1%
this is a very rich robust stout, assertive -- it's a smooth sipper but very aggressive -- proceed with caution.
pours a rich black and works up a bare finger of a head that dissipates pretty quick. the smell is great -- spicy, with hints of roasted coffee -- strong roasted malt presence.
the taste is a perfect balance of intense dark roasted bitterness and a sweet creamy, slightly chocy middle -- the beer finishes fairly hot and dry with but leaves a nice sweet mouth coating -- rich and little nutty -- perhaps a touch of hazelnut.
the mouthfeel is good and rich, smooth with adequate spritey carbonation, creamy goopy thick texture in the glass -- perhaps with time it would really round out and become very smooth -- it's definitely a little edgy -- an assertive Russian Imperial.
i will need a couple more bottles of this...
06-14-2011 03:30:37 | More by colforbin73
4.18/5 rDev -3.7%
This year's brew, poured into a snifter. Pours an oily black with 3 fingers of chocolate brown head. Smells like an RIS, I don't really pick up anything novel, but that might be my weak sense of smell. The taste is solid, dark and malty, with hints of chocolate and coffee. Though the high ABV doesn't initially present itself, it makes itself known on the finish, leaving a tingling warmness in my mouth and throat. All in all a solid RIS.
06-14-2011 01:41:44 | More by stupac2
4.43/5 rDev +2.1%
Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 6/12/11
Pours brown, quickly arriving at a not-quite-black hue once in the glass (a faint swath of light is able to pass through around the stem). 1/2 inch hot chocolate colored foam. The head thins to a skim but bunches up, leaving a decent ring and some lace.
The nose is loaded with chocolate tidings: dark chocolate fudge, brownie batter, powdery cocoa. My first impression was that it smelled really sweet; however, it opens up quick enough that further layers become more distinct. Molasses and coffee beans. A mild roastiness drifts about. Does not at all smell boozy.
The flavors progress differently. Molasses and hints of earth give way to a decent amount of roast. Dark chocolate goes back and forth between sweet and bitter, occasionally finding a perfect medium along the way. Nevertheless, the beer flies in the face of the sweetness I initially assumed from the aroma. Indeed, it gets a bit roastier (and a tad burnt - even more to my liking) as it warms. Dry, roasted coffee notes carry the finish.
Full bodied, boasting an appropriate viscosity without going overboard. Carbonation is a bit higher than I prefer but it's the fluffy sort and stacks up pretty well with the overall feel of the beer so I oughtn't complain too much. Alcohol is well-hidden; not hot though a warming sensation lingers.
Stone IRS succeeds as a bold, assertive example of the style, all the while exhibiting class. It's excellently constructed and maintains composure throughout. Ages well, too; righteous.
06-13-2011 05:07:26 | More by Ryan011235
4.1/5 rDev -5.5%
2011 vintage 22oz bottle poured into my wonderful Stone IRS specialty tulip glass that I waited to use until I got IRS this year.
Appearance - Pours a nice motor oil black with almost two fingers of medium brown head where the bubbles are pretty creamy, diminishing but not completely, and they leave a little lace. After thinking it over, I can't recall the last time I had a wonderful RIS with such a large, beautiful, appealing head. For that, I have to edit and give it a 4.0. Very nice!
Smell - Smells like Czarist Russia! No but really, it smells of wonderful, dark, roasted malt, dark, bitter chocolate and coffee (actually a very good amount of coffee in the there), some vanilla, some fig or other dark fruit smell, notes of black star anise, and a bit of hops bringing up the rear. Not quite perfect 5.0, but damn close. 4.5! Probably only thing that could've made this smell better for me would have been if it were aged in Bourbon barrels! No hint of booze in the nose whatsoever!
Taste - Sweet, slightly boozy RIS bliss. At first it's sweet dark malts and roasted qualities, with the same dark chocolate and coffee (less so in the taste than the nose suggested to me), then you get some of the wonderful nuances like vanilla, molasses, toffee, and some burnt brown sugar and hops. I have to note, I burped and the hop taste that came up was almost like a mix between what I'd expect from their IPA mixed with their Smoked Porter or from a fresh Sublimely Self Righteous. All in all, a very good RIS! I can't quite say it's the best I've had or that it's as good as the 09 version I had (multiple times) a Beer Fest here, but it is very good. Definitely going to get a number of these to see how they age over the years.
Mouthfeel - Like a thinner motor oil. Really just thinly viscous with light-medium carbonation and a light-medium body. Actually felt like the mouthfeel overall was too thin for an RIS. So a little bit of a downgrade there. Finish is actually pretty quick and leaves the mouth just about as wet as it 'normally' is. Leaves just a hint of flavors coated around the mouth to make you want another sip of the goodness. After thinking it over, this really is more of a 4.0 in the mouthfeel. It could be a little bit thicker for an RIS, but other than that it really does deserve a 4.0.
Overall - The back of the bottle notes that there was no sin in making this brew. If that's true, I'll eat the gargoyles old little star hat and you can call me an angel for enjoying this one! Frankly, I'd love to get my hands on some older vintages to see how they are holding up. With that said, I have no problem enjoying this brew in early June here, where it's in the low 100s pretty much every day now. Wonderful. I'm absolutely kicking myself for not buying any of the 2010 last year shortly after I turned 21. I thought "Oh it should be there for a while" as I tried many other beers and made mix 6 packs of stuff. Went to the stores I frequent not a couple weeks later when I started my 'cellar' and thought I could handle a big RIS, and it was alll gone to my dissapointment.
Bottom line, TRY THIS BREW, CELLAR AT LEAST 2!
06-12-2011 04:27:57 | More by matttttYCE
4.47/5 rDev +3%
Finally my local Bevmo got the regular RIS and belgo RIS and I was able to pick up 2 of each. I've been waiting for this since having last years and falling in love with it and now I'm really into stouts and it's even better.
A: Pours pitch black into my Stone RIS tulip with brown head. No light shines through. Heavy lacing but it dissipates quickly.
S: Coffee, alcohol, chocolate. The alcohol smell actually burns my nostrils but it's ok, I forgive it since the beer is so great.
T: Cocoa, alcohol burn. More coffee.
MF: After the alcohol burn wears off I get cocoa that stuck around after taking a sip.
O: I think this is definitely worth the wait from the last years batch. I've been suggesting this to customers at my job and they've been buying it. It's a great stout for $5.99 so thank you Stone for not price gouging. I just threw another one into the cellar so I can't wait to see how it improves down the line.
06-11-2011 04:39:26 | More by BigB415
5/5 rDev +15.2%
2011 Bottled on 5 May 2011.
a-dark as sin, this beer has a tannish brown head. Beer pours out of the bottle like 10W50, and the malts open up right away. This beer looks thick.
s-roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, yeast, coffee-espresso, hops at the end. This beer has a lot of different smells to it. Beautiful bouquet of expressive smells. Smell gets richer as the beer warms, individual aspects get eaiser to pick out.
t-WOW. This taste like sipping chocolate, with some dark roast espresso in the mix. Rolling it around on the toung gives up more of the richness to this beer. Has some warming from the 10.5% alcohol content, but it fits the style. I could see drinking this on a cold snight with snow falling and the wind blowing. This is comfort beer. Finishes with hops and roasted malts. This beer sneaks up on you with the alcohol not smacking you in the chops.
m-like it should. Thick, rich, warm. Carbonation is spot on with this beer for the way it should feel in your mouth. Lots of richness here.
o-Best RIS I have ever had the opportunity to have. I am glad I have a case of these to cellar over the years. What a beer experience.
06-11-2011 01:54:08 | More by
4.03/5 rDev -7.1%
Poured into a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner glass.
Appearance: Excellent. Black with a brown head that stays around and coats the glass.
Smell: Huge amount of roastiness with hops hiding in the background.
Taste: The hops and roasted malts hit you with a one-two punch.
Mouthfeel: Syrupy goodness.
Overall: Quite an interesting take on the RIS style. Roasted malts backed with a huge amount of hops.
06-11-2011 01:33:14 | More by ChaseT
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,786 ratings.