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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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

6,963 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,963
Reviews: 2,585
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 527
Gots: 1,523 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,963 | Reviews: 2,585 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Sammy, May 02, 2004
Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

t0rin0, Feb 25, 2013
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.

UCLABrewN84, Mar 01, 2011
Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%

djrn2, Jan 10, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
4.35/5  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.

Thorpe429, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

zestar, Apr 29, 2013
Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +15.2%

spycow, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of nmann08
5/5  rDev +15.2%

nmann08, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%

acurtis, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of metter98
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
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

metter98, Oct 25, 2010
Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
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

brentk56, Feb 07, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

BuckeyeNation, Dec 03, 2005
Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Texasfan549, Nov 30, 2011
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.

BEERchitect, Jul 01, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

Phyl21ca, Mar 20, 2006
Photo of mikesgroove
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

mikesgroove, Feb 18, 2007
Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

kjkinsey, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

GRG1313, Feb 09, 2013
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.

womencantsail, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -7.8%

ygtbsm94, Jan 12, 2012
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.

kylehay2004, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -7.8%

jaydoc, Jul 23, 2013
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

Thankfully.

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

ChainGangGuy, May 14, 2006
Photo of Knapp85
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Knapp85, Jul 07, 2011
Photo of oberon
4.47/5  rDev +3%
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!

oberon, Jul 31, 2004
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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,963 ratings.