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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,675 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,675
Hads: 7,913
Avg: 4.34
pDev: 15.9%
Wants: 733
Gots: 2,084 | FT: 113
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
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Reviews: 2,675 | Hads: 7,913
Photo of Sammy
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

smooth thick chocolate more than coffee. Like a porter. Roasty aroma - not the main show. Beautiful black. 2003 edition. A bit acidic tempered by some food. Bit of carbonation - perfect.
Had a 2004 a year later, wasn't as great but will keep the rating. Had 2005, and dropped the rating to the average of the three-still very good. Thick though nowhere near the thickest RIS I have had.
Had it in late 2006 and it was great roast and chocolate and winelike, thick and mellowed 2-year old bottle.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.95/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler fill from Stone Brewing Co.

2005 vintage.

Pours a used motor oil black with a 1 inch dark brown head that fades to a very small cap. You cannot see through this beer whatsoever when it's held up to the light. Thick ring lacing on the drink down. Smells of roasted malt, rich espresso, dark chocolate, and cinnamon. Taste is perfect with roasted malts and coffee beans, bittersweet chocolate, and faint soy sauce. There is a delightful bittersweet finish that lingers on the tongue after each sip. Carbonation is good but it seems a bit flat overall. Thick and creamy in the mouth. Drinkability is beyond exceptional. I am very happy I have been able to try their 5+ year aged IRS. Very sad I only got a liter of this beer. Hopefully some of the bottles I have aging in my cellar will taste this good one day.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Excellent 3 finger, brown head which left lots of lace. This beer poured thick from the bottle. This is as dark as it gets with no real light getting through.

S: I caught the aroma of this beer as it poured a good foot from my nose. Roasty and a decent amount of coffee, caramel and chocolate and notes. Cocoa is apparent as well.

T: Initial coffee fades to a semi-sweet roasted flavor. Bit of a crisp alcohol character.

M: Oily, thick beer. Full bodied and moderate carbonation.

Overall: Well, this is a very nice beer. I definitely am not going to be drinking these often just because of the alcohol content but the beer is very complete and an all around top in its genre.

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Photo of metter98
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with only a few beige bubbles floating on the surface and around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of licorice and roasted coffee beans in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather complex and has flavors of bittersweet chocolate, coffee beans and licorice.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and rather smooth on the palate. Some warming sensations from the alcohol are present.
D: This beer is definitely one that needs to be slowly sipped given its alcohol content; it would take me a long time to finish a 750mL bottle by myself. This is an excellent representation of the style so I will definitely try another of these again.

Note: 2009 release

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

this one is a keeper for sure, especially at less than 8 bucks a bomber. pours a gorgeous and enticing coffee black color, heavy and rich, with a 1 inch light brown head that has the consistency of cool whip, thick and light. it just floats on top of the beer without ever getting smaller. smells quite spicy for the style, espresso beans radiate as well. there are also notes of milk chocolate, vanilla beans, and charred english malts. flavor is similarly complex, with the roasty coffee and chocolate flavors being most prominent. there is that spice character again, maybe peppercorns or anise or clove... great alcoholic sweetness in the finish. the feel is quite thick, almost motor oil thick. mellow carbonation lets the complexities linger, and the aftertaste is awesome. this is a bigtime beer, a good one to share with a lover. well worth its excellent reviews.

Edit: some age can really pop this off. Just enjoyed the chocolatey mellowness of a 2012 edition, and it was a sensation. Don't be afraid to cellar awhile!

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Photo of Knapp85
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of Stone's best, The Russian Imperial Stout poured out as a deep thick black liquid with a brown foamy head on top. The lacing was very impressive here. The smell of the beer gives of plenty of roasted malts and chocolate, some hops, and even some sweeter notes from some dark fruits. The taste of the beer is packed with a heavy amount of malts and hops. The flavors evolve into a rich piney chocolatey combo with some fermented fruit in the far distance. The mouthfeel has a great thickness to it and coats the glass and mouth really well. Overall It's a damn good beer and I enjoy it every time I have it.

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Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pitch black color with a nice tan head; leaves some lacing in a dancing pattern

Smell: Roasted grains, dark chocolate, dark fruits (figs and dates), anise, coffee and alcohol

Taste: Rich and malty with a chocolate presence right off the bat, followed by a fruity bitterness; after the swallow, the coffee and dark dried fruit flavors (the label claims black currants and I will go with that as well as the figs and dates)emerge; a bit of hops return on the finish and provide a long lasting bitterness along with a residual touch of licorice

Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy and viscous; moderate carbonation; warms on the gullet for a long time after the swallow

Drinkability: A wonderfully rich and powerful stout but it's one and done

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

Release '11: (reviewed 05/31/11)

An insanely masculine stout with ultimate creamy maltiness, aggressive roast, and a lush cocoa driven, coffee-centric flavor that completely defies what stouts should be.

Black as coal and with a voluptuous pour that exudes weight, creaminess, and viscocity- this inky black beer builds a thick top coat of foam adorns a medium tan color, carries a heafty retention and moderate lace. All this manifests in a very dessert-like appearance.

Malty, malty, malty rich aromas of slightly burnt toffee, nutty coffees, bittersweet cocoa, all come together in a way that reminds me of Whoppers malted-milk candies and chocolate covered espresso beans.

Flavors are all the same, except the malty sweet flavors erupt first, then with the quick rebuttal of coffee, cocoa, nutty flavors that demand attention at mid palate. All that coffee, chocolate, and nutty taste rounds out wonderfully with a bitter-sweet but cherry alcohol flavored finish that's reminescent of tirimasu and espresso bitterness.

Very lush and creamy textured, the early feel is robust and full. The beer makes a quick but even transition to a hearty malt mid palate, just before the bittering and drying finish. Though the beer never achieves full dryness or refreshment (It's not supposed to), rather holds onto a savory bitter chocolate semi-dry finish that lingers well into the next sip, making it a perfect compliment to a dessert or as a dessert itself.

Stone's Imperial Russian Stout is always at the epidome of what the style represents. With ultimate maltiness and supportive roast and complexities, it's amazing how effortless the beer seems at it's rudimentary levels, but how complex and succulent it becomes the more you delve into it's individual and unique flavors.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2008 Release

G: Poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours a very dark, rich brown that is opaque in the glass. A finger or more of light cocoa-colored head with a good amount of carbonation visible in it. Pretty good lacing.

S: Strong on the alcohol. First scents are chocolate, cherry skins, caramel. Rich, roasted malts.

T: Waited until this one warmed up a little bit to fill out the taste profile--it definitely improves as it gets more toward room temperature. Plenty of complexity. Caramel with hints of chocolate, all behind a solid roasted, dark malt backbone. Not as much of the dried fruit as I picked up in the nose. This almost hits me as a cross between a RIS and an American Imperial Stout. Either way, very solid.

M: Medium-bodied with an above-average amount of carbonation. Definite alcohol warmth. Slightly chewy.

D: Highly drinkable for an RIS. This has a lighter mouthfeel than many others, and I can definitely see how this is a spring--as opposed to winter--release.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.86/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle(room temp – July 2005 release): Poured a pitch-black color stout with a bid foamy dark brown head with pretty good retention. Aroma of roasted malt with some coffee. Roasted caramel malt are easy to distinguish with some very easily distinguishable coffee. I was expecting a bit more complexity (liquorice, chocolate, plums…) or even more hops. Body was quite full and alcohol was well hidden. Overall, this is a very good imperial stout but I was expecting a bit more complexity and I still have to say that I would drink Expedition over this any day.

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

2007 22 oz bottle.

Black and robust, lightly carbonated and syrup-thick. The nose is all roasted barley and molasses. 10.8% alcohol is alarmingly well-hidden here, especially for a bottle with little age to it. Dark roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and burnt toast entangle (but never overwhelm) the palate, with a long finish of black licorice and mild hops. Perfectly smooth and drinkable, I find it difficult to fault this beer in any way. One of the very best Russian Imperial Stouts available today.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, the 2008 version at the Stone event at Bar Volo in Toronto. I like the Cossack hat on the gargoyle on the label - awkward, but funny.

This beer pours a complete black abyss, save a teensy basal red cola edge, with two fat fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and a little soapy brown head, which lazily dissipates, leaving some attractive painted tree branch lace around the glass.

It smells of lightly roasted caramel malt, dry chocolate wafers, wet ash, pithy licorice, a further oaten graininess, warming alcohol, and mild earthy, citrusy, and piney hops. The taste is sweet, lightly-toasted caramel/toffee malt, bittersweet cocoa, dry coffee grounds, a hint of star anise, treacle, an underlying citrus/pine hoppiness, and a tame, but slowly enveloping, warm 'n cozy booziness.

The carbonation is practically non-existent, barely a tremor of frothiness to be found, the body thick, unctuous, and velvety smooth, like buttah, with the attendant oily creaminess. It finishes still sweet, sure, but with a slightly vodka-tinted citrus hop edge over top of all that solid-ass malt.

Hooo-weeee, is this a dangerously drinkable and enjoyable RIS, way too clean and approachable for its purported strength. I wanted to make nice and share this monster of a brew, but since all my new friends around me are drinking the same thing, methinks that tonight's Supa Bowl viewing is gonna be a fuzzy one.

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Photo of emerge077
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Spring 2007 release, cellared since then, thanks K&C!

Jet black with the requisite mocha foam, no lace just a thin ring at the edge, and an abstract mesh of skim across the top. Slightly oxidized aroma, still plenty chocolatey, cocoa, malted milk balls, and molasses.

Similar flavor, hershey's and molasses, reduced down to a compact format. A bit of roasty malt in the background, any booze/hops are long gone on the palate. Thick, full, rich, sticky. Quintessential aged RIS? I guess so... Afterimage of toasted marshmallows and burnt chocolate edges. Nice enough, maybe not my favorite RIS but a soild one i'd never refuse. Plan to revisit when Stone shows up in Illinois...

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Photo of zeff80
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, black as night color with a small, light brown, foamy head. It left soapy sheets of lace like legs on a red wine.

S - It smelled of sweet chocolate, roasted malt, floral notes and sweet fruits.

T - It tasted like candy sugar, licorice, roasted malt and strong chocolate and caramel flavors. A solid bitter hoppy kick balanced out the sweetness.

M - It was soft, smooth and still sharp with a warming alcohol presence. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a truly great brew. One of the most balanced RIS's I've ever had.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Late Spring 2003 release. Glossy sable. No highlights, no edges, no nothing. It isn't possible for a beer to be more light nullifying than this one is. The head is one of the darkest that I've ever seen. It's a menacing shade of cocoa brown, the perfect color compliment to the beer on which it rests. It also puts the lie to the notion that high-ABV beer tends not to have large, persistent heads. Even though there isn't a glass smothering amount of lace, there's more than enough not to spoil a world-class appearance.

The nose is outstanding. It practically oozes heavily roasted black malt with all of the aromas that go along with it. Bittersweet chocolate fudge swirls around chunks of crushed coffee bean with generous lashings of molasses. The faintest hint of alcohol is more than welcome since it gives the aroma a seriousness that all good RISs possess. Perhaps nearly three years in the bottle is a bit too long to expect hops to persevere. However, I still have hope that they'll make a cameo on the palate.

Stone RIS is phenomenal! It's everything that I had hoped for and so much more. I have never experienced a more mind-blowing, darkly delicious, megaton malt bomb in my life. First and foremost, it possesses a monolithic malt backbone that gives granite an inferiority complex. Rivulets of melted chocolate, espresso, blackstrap molasses and the finest ouzo combine to create a raging river of mouthfilling (and belly warming) bliss.

The hops haven't completely faded, although I'm sure they're a shadow of their former 2003 selves. As is usually the case, they make an appearance on the finish when the malt deluge has finally begun to abate. I'd love to taste this beer fresh, but I have to say that it's an ass kicker of the highest order when aged. It's amazing how long the flavor lingers. The licorice/anise/ouzo hangs on seemingly forever.

This particular vintage clocks in at 9.47% and it feels every bit of that (even if it doesn't taste like it). This is a beer that is brewed to be sipped. It's doing an admirable job of warming me up, which I needed since I just came in from snowblowing half a foot of snow off my driveway. Each mouthful leads me to thank the boys at Stone for such an incredible beer. Although I don't usually buy in cases, this is a 'case beer' if there ever was one.

The mouthfeel is, in a word, perfection. It's as if the brewers read my mind and designed it especially for me. I've had thicker Imperial Stouts, but none that possessed this degree of heavy silkiness. Try as I might, I cannot find a flaw. Perfect mouth presence, perfect coating finish, just... plain... perfect.

SIRS is Stone's finest creation and is infinitely deserving of a place in the pantheon of the greatest beers ever created. I've run out of adjectives for 'great', but I haven't quite run out of beer. So if you'll excuse me, it's time to savor the final few swallows. Stone Russian Imperial Stout is a tour de force and is the finest stout in existence, bar none.

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Photo of oberon
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black like motor oil I held it up to a pretty bright light and nothing shined thru a bit of a mocha colored head settled nicely on top perfect.Hops in a imperial stout well this one has a big dose that come thru in the aroma with some cocoa powder and deeply roasted malt.Big complexities going on in the flavor department roasted coffee followed by a medicinal quality a touch of smoke and hop dryness in the finish.A beer that lives up to the billing big bold and beautiful man what a beer!

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to unclejedi for the bottle!

Poured a deep black, opaque, no light through this baby! Creamy head gave way to some crazy brown lace, couldn''t hardly see through the glass! Nuts looking dripping down the glass. Black as night this was. The smell, holy crap, CHOCOLATE. I thought I was sniffing hershey, the chocolate smell was so overpowering, my wife could smell it next to me. As it warmed, hints of coffee and alcohol tingled the nose. Taste started out with coffee, sugary caramel sweetness, hints of chocolate, not as pronounced as the smell. There is a definate alcohol warming on this one, definate, but is is very good. Fel is very thick, almost shake like, very good RIS, very nice and another hit from stone, I thoroughly enjoyed this and can only hope to have another one day!

2008 Update

Finally got a hold of this years IRS from Stone. Needless to say, I was happy to see this one show up on my doorstep, as you could always rest assured you were going to have a top quality brew on your hands with this one. The pour was just as to be expected. A deep dark black liquid, that was completely opaque. A big three finger high head of tan colored lace was stretched over the top and took a good long while to finally settle down. Once it did, there was still a good-sized head on top that stayed around an inch high for the rest of the session. Very nice side glass presentation left lots of brown foam all over the glass. Your classic big stout.

The aroma was full and rich, and very sweet. Lots of lactose and cocoa hints were rippling throughout. The aroma of fresh roasted coffee provided some bitterness and a touch of depth to it, as did the hint of alcohol that was all over the back of this one. The flavor followed it along perfectly. Very big and rich, with a deep layer of chocolate and coffee that provided the bulk of the flavor here. The alcohol was a bit hot at first, but given time to warm up to room temperature, it turned into a wonderfully big and mellow stout. The finish had a nice touch of bitterness to it, and the slightest bit of hops dried you out and left you with a long drawn out flavor of sugar-filled coffee. Great feel on this one, with a full body that left the nice little bit of a creamy feel to it. The alcohol was hard to escape at almost 11%, but was surprisingly more mellow then you would have thought, leading this one to be a superb sipper, and perfectly tailored for the late night tasting.

Overall, I thought this was very good, and definitely up there with some of the best in the style. A big, strong, full stout that you must respect when drinking. Do not take this one lightly, just because it is a little bit more available then some of the others, is no reason to pass it by.

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Photo of oline73
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of nickfl
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Coal black, with about 1 inch of tan-brown head.

S - Alcohol, hops and chocolate. Rasins, estery fruit, dates and a bit of mint.

T - Spicy, hoppy. Chocolate/ espresso and rasins/ dates. A bit of buttery, nutty maltiness and a long hoppy, spicy finish.

M - Very thick and oily with higher carbonation than I would have expected.

D - I can't find anything to complain about in this one. The flavor and aroma are excellent and the chocolate notes are particularly delicious. They have done a great job of rideing the line between a vary flavorfull beer and an excessive, opressive one.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black as night and thick as motor oil. About one finger of tan foam, and not any lacing to speak of.

S: Chocolate, coffee, licorice, a slight smokiness, and roasted malt. There is still some alcohol present, but that's no big surprise.

T: So much going on here. Chocolate, dark fruits (currants and plums), roasted malt, licorice, and a bit of alcohol.

M: Huge body, very thick and syrupy.

D: Despite being approximately a year old, it's still somewhat boozy. Very tasty though and it will only get better.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

(2005 Vintage)

Appearance: Oh my, yes. Pours out a rich, inticing jet black body. The foamy tan-colored head recedes quickly.

Smell: The welcome aroma delivers a sweet scent filled with rich espresso, roasted barley, molasses, and anise. A soft scent of port wine can also be found here. Lastly, an inspiriting alcohol vapor fills the nose.

Taste: While tasting this beer I scribbled some complimentary notes down on a notepad, but didn't get all of them because I went through the world's entire supply of ink and paper in the process.

The world's entire supply of ink and paper, I said.

That said, this brew is tremendously malty, with sharp notes of coffee and chocolate. Undertones of vanilla and molasses are present as well. Hop flavor is gentle, barely peeking through the immense gamut of flavors present. Yes, the alcohol is apparent, but quite soothing.

The long finish leaves a sustaining roasted flavor on the tongue. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and quite chewy at times, while maintaining an unequaled velvety texture.

Drinkability: The very best RIS I've tasted yet.

So, yeah, I liked it. I had very high expectations for this beer, and it met every single one of them.


(My thanks to AndoBrew for sharing this one with me.)

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

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this yet. Great time to review it, sitting through Hurricane Earl. Spring 2010 release.

A nice creamy rich dark head rises up to 1 finger but fades semi quickly over super dark almost pitch black colored beer. It has nice legs running down the sides of the glass too indicating it's thickness.

The nose has plenty of dark roasty malts, lots of coffee and toffee, roasted barley, some oatmeal, creamy chocolate milk, some bakers chocolate, a slight caramel, chewy malt aroma, some sweetness but no real booze. THe nose is a little harder to get out than I expected, lighter.

The taste comes on really rich, velvety, thick, and tasty. It is a little boozy, with some warmth and very light tingle. There is some nice dark malts, some roast, light coffee, toffee, caramel, and somewhat sweet. Lots more creamy chocolate milk and oatmeal, but not too heavy on the oatmeal. Some bakers chocolate as well. A light vanilla flavor as well. A slight bitterness, a little from the roast and some soft earthy hops.

The mouth is heavier but not overwhelming, with good carbonation and a light warming booze.

It finishes slightly dry with some more sticky sweetness, lingering toffee, some coffee and roast, lots of chocolate, creamy milk and bakers, and even a little vanilla still. Some light warming and tingly booze late, but not as much as I expected. A little bitterness It coats the mouth pretty well too and just lingers and lingers. A little bitterness starts to build too and get a little more bitter as it goes, some light spicy hops and somewhat from the earthy roast. With all the dark malts in this I'm surprised there aren't any off flavor minerals and briney flavors, they did a good job with this.

Overall I'm a little disappointed by the nose being too light, but the taste was great, and the whole experience of the beer was pretty nice. I need to crack my aged bottle sometime, although I think I want to keep aging it.

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

On tap @ the Copper Mine Pub (North Arlington, NJ) on 7/24/09. 8 oz pour served in a Chimay glass.

Pours black as night in the glass, with a 1/4 finger of creamy burnt mocha colored head. Just awesome retention here, staying rich & frothy the whole way through the glass, leaving a big cascade of creamy spotty lace and brown goo back. The aroma is just awesome smelling, being quite heavy in the nose, with a perfect evenness between the darkker notes of roast & coffee and then the sweeter tones of chocolate, toffee, and dark fruits. As mentioned before, the alcohol presence gives this some heavy presence in the nostrils but is never stinging, instead imparting a cozy smelling warmth that makes this a pleasure to sniff.

The taste starts with a big crunchy flush of blackened and burnt roast and zippy espresso character. This is then balanced (if you can call it that) by an equally massive sweeter base of dark chocolate, toffee, black currants, and liquorice. Man, the finish on this is absolutely bitter and roasty that just STICKS in the mouth. Very satisfying. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a big mouthfilling prickly carbonation that really brings out the sharp roasty character in this. This then slickens out towards the back, with a chewy feel that carries the bulk of the huge sweetness in this with it. That hefty ABV is present, but just like the best RIS do, it never detracts from the flavors but instead gives them extra gravitas in the profile, helping make everything pop.

A classic from Stone no doubt. Full flavored, full bodied, full everything, RIS that leaves nothing on the table. I love the fact that you don't have to give up an arm or a leg to procur if either. Great stuff!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"Limited Late Spring 2002 Release" - roughly one year old right now. There's been enough said about the specifics of this beer that I'm sure I don't have to start with "Pours as black as night...". I'm not a huge fan of Imperial Stouts, but this one just became one of my all time favorites!

I was quite impressed with the level of maltiness present in the aroma, and the complexity that goes along with it. It's quite cocoa-ish, but also fruity. It has a touch of the "burnt currant" that's so common to the style, but this is more ripe and juicy - and it's the fruitiness that I recognize in the other Stone beers (particularily the pale ale). But it's even more complex than that with some very light citrusy hops and an oak character that really makes it interesting. But surprisingly, it's not that roasty. In fact, overall, it's more of a Baltic Porter. There's a touch of alcohol in the nose as well, but it seems to enhance rather than hinder.

The flavor follows the same routine. It's quite impressive with a rich-but-not-cloying maltiness that delivers buttered brown sugar, cocoa, fresh wort, creamy coffee, ripe raspberry, nuts, dried fruits, sweet bread crust, red wine, and caramel. It's well-balanced by a bitterness that supports, but also hangs in the wings.

Highly recommended!!! Although the alcohol will stop you.... you'll want to drink a few of these!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stem-goblet at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, California. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average; Stone is direly overrated but I heard good things about this brew in particular, and I like the style.

Paired with sweet potato fries.

A: Pours a half finger head of khaki colour, nice cream, okay thickness, and bad retention. Colour of the body is a nontransparent solid opaque black. I prefer the head colour of beers in this style to be more of a tan - the darker the better - but khaki does alright. I'm not anticipating a great beer, though. Due to the nontransparency, no yeast particles are visible (if they're there).

Sm: Vanilla, cream, chocolate, caramel, and hints of roast. A mild strength aroma. Roast should be more present given the style. I'm alerted.

T: Generic chocolate and tame cream over a dark malt (chocolate malt inclusive) foundation with underlying caramel. Some vanilla hints that don't amount to much. No real layering here. Not at all complex for the style. Stone played this beer surprisingly safe. Why is it they pick this style to do that on? They seem to force unwelcome flavours into most otherwise simple styles. Decently balanced but built without boldness, experimentation, or inspiration. As Imperial Stouts come, this is pretty generic.

Mf: Silky smooth and wet. Completely wrong for the style; a stout demands dryness and coarseness (from roast) overcome masterfully by cream. That isn't the case here. Too thin. Adequate carbonation.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. Russian Imperial stouts like this one are a dime a dozen nowadays. There are far better beers in the style, even at the same or lesser price. It's decent, and I might pick it up in bottled form at a good price, but don't expect masterful brewing. I wouldn't recommend it to friends. In fairness, it'd be a pretty good beginner's Russian Imperial Stout. My main problem with it surrounds its lack of inspiration or specialization; as a generic example of the style it'd be a good introduction for people new to the style.

A decent candidate for aging, but I wouldn't do it meself.

Would pair okay with chocolate. Not real suitable to barbecue.


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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 2,675 ratings.