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.

6,910 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,910
Reviews: 2,582
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 515
Gots: 1,504 | FT: 83
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: 6,910 | Reviews: 2,582 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of StarshipPoopers
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%

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%

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 23, 2011
Photo of shortbus7
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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
Photo of Sideswipe
4.47/5  rDev +3%

22oz bottle poured into a tulip. 2011 Batch.

A- Pitch black with a finger of light brown head. The head recedes leaving a whispy beige coaster and a nice ring around he outside of the glass.

S- Roasted malt, coffee and chocolate in the nose. Mmmm.

T- Starts out with notes of roasted coffee, followed by chocolate, toffee and a bit of sweetness. Sweet roasted malt fills out the taste mid-palate and the finish is sweet with a lingering coffee bitterness.

M- Feel is silky smooth and creamy wih a nicely low level of carbonation. ABV is largely hidden by the excellent play of roasty, sweet flavors at work in the beer.

O- This is a great rendition of a big imperial stout. Fantastic coffee and chocolate flavors melded with a thick, creamy body, make for a very enjoyable RIS experience. One of my favorites and highly recommended.

Sideswipe, Sep 09, 2011
Photo of curasowa
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%

Appearance: Dark as night black with one finger of tan head that fades to a thin cap with minimal lacing.

Aroma: Roasted malt with molasses and ripe fruit notes along with some alcohol.

Taste: Thick, rich and creamy, it lands with a thud on the tongue. Roasted malt and some chocolate are the most noticeable flavors. There's a little bit of nuttiness in the otherwise astringent, slightly hot finish.

The Rest: This a one big, flavorful beer. It's crazy how thick and creamy it is with almost no carbonation to speak of. This is one to enjoy nice and slow.

curasowa, Sep 05, 2011
Photo of readbaron
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%

2007 IRS poured into a snifter at Acre's Stone Tap Takeover.

Pours pitch back with a bit of tan foam that fades quickly.

I love this beer. So complex.

On the nose - sweet roasted malts, molasses, chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, anise and a bit of char. The flavors swirl together in a beautifully complex way. I keep going back to apreciate the aroma.

Taste is more of the same - anise, dark fruit, intensely smooth sweetness. Chocolate. Coffee. A bit of heat, and a bit of char.

Mouthfeel is excellent. Creamy, full bodied. Not quite thick, but still very nice.

This beer is more than the sum of its parts. Wish I had more of the old bottles. Thankfully there's a ton of it made, so hopefully I can acquire some.

readbaron, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of Tschnab
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%

A- pours a deep jet black, opaque even when held to light, with a big milk chocolate head, no lace.

S- Dark winter fruits and roasted malts, bitter chocolate and coffee.

T- lots of raisins, figs, and dates, as well as coffee and very dark chocolate, maybe cocoa nibs even. Licorice-like bitterness on the finish, some bitter hop action too. Thick mouthfeel, not the thickest, but still really nice velvety moutfeel.

O- Man, this beer rocks. Maybe the best deal around, getting a world class RIS for 7 bucks.

Tschnab, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of TheBeerCarl
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%

Appearance: reddish dark brown with tiny bubbles and very little head. Head is light brown.

Smell: brown sugar band black licorice and light hints of bourbon

Taste: BAM! Rootbeer. That's the first thing I thought of when I took a drink of this stout. Very interesting. The main flavors that I can pick out are chocolate, licorice, and alcohol. Stringent hop lingering on the back of the tongue. Little caramel.

Mouthfeel: very light on the pallet. the carbonation is light which lends to a smooth feel but also just enough to compliment the licorice and hops.

Overall: Not what I would expect from a Russian Imperial Stout but still very interesting in a good way.

TheBeerCarl, Aug 30, 2011
Photo of julian
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%

A: Pitch black even when held up to the light. Thick brown fluffy head that stays for the party. Pours very nicely and looks to be quite viscous, like crude arabian oil. 4.5

S: Roasted barley, molasses, caramel, slight coffee undertones and a little bit of booze. For such a high gravity beer the alcohol is well masked. I’d personally like a more dominant aroma, or some more coffee in the nose, maybe chocolate, but otherwise this is very good. 4

T&M: Medium to thick bodied, but on the thicker side. This definitely needs to be tasted chilled and sipped slowly to allowed to warm to bring out some of the complexities in the flavor. There’s toffee, molasses, roasted barley, alcohol, some dark fruits...I don’t even know what else to describe, there’s a lot of subtle flavors going on here. 4.5 / 4

O: One of my favorite off the shelf (season) impy stouts. I love this brew. So much so that I brewed a clone of it that’s conditioning now. Can’t wait to try it! The only thing that could make me love this more is a slightly thicker mouthfeel (I like them REAL VISCOUS), more coffee taste and aged in bourbon barrels. Next up to try is the Belgo Anise version of this. 4.5

julian, Aug 29, 2011
Photo of dgilks
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%

Dark black and inky with a moderate sized tan head. Poor head retention.

Chocolate aroma with some earthiness. Fairly sweet. Moderate hoppiness.

Bitter chocolate with some sweet malt. A hint of caramel and earthy and slightly citrussy hops in the background. Solid.

Medium full body with moderate carbonation. Thick and rich.

A solid RIS with lots of great flavour and a lovely mouthfeel.

dgilks, Aug 29, 2011
Photo of TheRealBigC
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%

On tap at 775 Grastropub

Deep brown body with a mocha sort of head which dissolved quickly with no lacing.

Smell was rich with coffee and malts.

Taste was similar, very rich. And you feel the warmth of the alcohol more than you can taste it.

A beer I can certainly appreciate and a lover of imperial stouts should definitely check this one out (though it's likely they already have).

TheRealBigC, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of stxSS07
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip. 2011 vintage.

A- Pours an oil-slick black with a 2 finger deep khaki-colored pillowy head. Leaves nice sticky lacing.

S- Big roasted malt notes, coffee, chocolate, a bit of a sugary vanilla note, and a tinge of alcohol.

T- Follows the nose with a big hit a bitter roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of dark fruits as the beer warms. Alcohol touch on the back end helps to move the flavor along, but becomes just slightly overbearing once it gets up to room temperature.

M- Feels thick, chewy, and viscous. I can almost feel the body of this beer clinging to the inside of my mouth.

O- One of the best "regular" RIS's I've had the pleasure of trying, altough I think Plead the 5th does a much better job at concealing its booze while having some stronger flavors.

stxSS07, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

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.

SkiBum22, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of oline73
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%

2010 bottle poured into my Colossus snifter.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color with a finger of mocha head that dissipates quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Quite sweet, dark fruit and chocolate. Some toffee/caramel in there as well. Roasty coffee notes with warm alcohol at the end.

Taste: A lot like the smell, which is a very good thing in this case. More bitter roast than the smell, but the sweetness is still there to balance things out. Dark chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit. The finish is smooth with warming alcohol. Very well balanced.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side with very minimal carbonation. The beer coats your mouth and it is quite slick at the finish of each sip.

Overall: A very good Imperial Stout. A tad bitter in the finish, but nothing to really complain about. Great balance and I would love to try this barrel aged.

oline73, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of mattboyer182
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%

A - Nice black pour with a dark brown thick head.

S - Smells of alcohol, licorice and chocolate.

T - Taste has chocolatey woody flavors up front with a warm alcohol taste bringing up the rear.

M - Rich, thick, syrupy feel.

O - Great IRS. Look forward to it every year.

mattboyer182, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of thatruth
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%

my first review, hello all! wish me luck!

grabbed a 22oz of this on a recent trip down the street to the Beer Junction in West Seattle. poured from 2011 Classic Release bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: pours like a nice black, roast coffee. foamy, light brown lacing. looks opaque inside glass. absolutely no light penetrates this beer.

Smell: smoky, bbq, oak, dark chocolate, almost a hazelnut cappuccino vibe in there as well. like walking through a burning forest. a roasting, chocolaty forest.

Taste: pretty alchi-tasting, surprisingly. at 10.5% alcohol this may come as a surprise to few, but with most of Stone's creations I've had the taste hits you before the alcohol, not here. aside from that, very much like the smell. oak, coffee, lacquer, hint of dark chocolate. for some VERY strange reason this beer consistently reminds me of Rogue's Juniper Pale Ale, must be the slightest hint of an herb akin to juniper somewhere.

Mouthfeel: pleasant enough for it's high alco content foundation, doesn't hover long after it goes down, "burnt cigar" aftertaste as a friend of mind so wittingly put it once, as with most Imperial Russian Stouts.

Overall: surprised. Stone has always been held high, if not the highest in my brewer's book. although I haven't had the entire catalog or anything, Arrogant Bastard has long been my favorite beer, Ruination and IPA are great, and having the Sublimely Self-Righteous for the first time the other day, I can definitely say this one just falls short of the others. perhaps it was the barrel or bottle, I won't hesitate to give it another try one day.

thatruth, Aug 20, 2011
Photo of nandemo1
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Bomber fell over while I was organizing the fridge/cellar and the crown started leaking, guess it's a good time for a review.

Poured a pitch black with a one finger tan head that slowly fell back with no lacing.

Smell is of rich chocolate and cherries. Taste is pretty similar with additional coffee notes. There is a definite sweetness but I do get some lasting hop bitterness. Everything seems to blend together well and there is no alcohol evident except for a nice warming feeling after a half pint or so.

Mouthfeel is silky and the beer coats the tongue for a while.

A great example that is very drinkable now, yet I'm excited to see how a couple of bottles age.

nandemo1, Aug 20, 2011
Photo of ahq514
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%

Got a 12 oz pour of the 2005 vintage at finnegans.

Pours a dark black with about a one finger head.

All the elements of an ris but mellowed out a bit. Roasty, chocoalte, coffee. They seem to blend together really well and seem not so distinct from each other.

Taste matches the smell pretty accurately. Roasty chocolate coffee that is blended together pretty well. Alcohol is there, but much more mellowed out. Right on par as far as sweetness goes. No hops detected as I would expect from a 6 year old beer. You can tell this beer has sat for awhile. Pretty complex. As I said before wish I could pick out more flavors, but they are all intertwined at this point.

Mouthfeel is good. Lower carbonation, malts really stick to the sides of the mouth.

Overall this is a great beer. Never had such an old beer before so I didn't know what to expect besides what I've read. Pleasantly surprised. Just glad I could try such an aged beer without having to have the patience, especially since this beer was brewed when I was still in high school.

ahq514, Aug 19, 2011
Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%

Bottle from 10' and I will be drinking the 11' tomorrow night.

Poured black with brown around the rim. Nice khaki head that fades, which is expected for 10.5% ABV.

The smell is chocolate, smoky roast, and a little alcohol.

The taste is very much chocolate at this point. A little alcohol on the back but overall not very noticeable. There was more coffee notes when it was cold but as it warms it is almost all chocolate.

The mouthfeel is medium to heavy.

Awesome beer and for the price none other beat it.

Eriktheipaman, Aug 17, 2011
Photo of gregshead
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%

A: Pours w/ a finger of khaki head that dissipates really slowly.

S: Lots of hops on the nose. Little bit of black licorice aroma.

T: A little bit of a peppery start. Some tobacco/anise/woody flavors give way to a good amount of hops. More hoppy than I prefer my stout.

M: Lots of carb keeps this one feeling pretty light. Some heat feel in the back of my throat. A dry mouthfeel finish

O: A very solid brew but I prefer this beer with about a year on it. Too much hops fresh.

gregshead, Aug 17, 2011
Photo of ryantho00
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%

Poured into a pint glass from a black bomber. Comes with a nice warning on the backside of the label! 'Expect our version of this mysterious brew to pour like Siberian crude and taste even heavier!' Ha ha, nice and fitting for this wonderful beer.

I poured this aggressively to first taste, which resulted in a black, thick liquid with a nice 3 finger creamy froth that dissipate to almost nothing. A nice lacing is left behind through the brew. I poured the second taste much more carefully and the 2 finger lingered for a minute or so, but not long.

This beer exhibits roasted coffee aromas and a spicy blackcurrant and dark cherry. I get a slight hint of alcohol as well.

This is a full bodied stout that starts with roasted coffee and mocha flavors with a slight hoppiness that leads into a fruitiness of cherry, raisen, and some spice and oak. Halfway through I get some caramel and alcohol almost bourbon flavored. Everything is well blended and remarkably drinkable for this whopping 10.5%abv. I must note the bottle states its a 2011 classic release. Slightly higher than the usual IRS. I get a fruity creamy roasted coffee and cherry aftertaste that has a nice lasting effect. Well done Stone for blending everything exceptionally well together.

This is a wonderful drink and take on IRS style. In Stone's traditional bold style, not for the feint of heart!

ryantho00, Aug 16, 2011
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,910 ratings.