Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

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Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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2,668 Reviews

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Reviews: 2,668
Hads: 7,868
Avg: 4.34
pDev: 15.9%
Wants: 715
Gots: 2,056 | FT: 114
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
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Reviews: 2,668 | Hads: 7,868
Photo of canucklehead
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thick and ebony in colour, this is an imposing beer. The smell was old chocolate and vinous notes swirling around the back. The taste was unexpected as instead of big hops and malts I got a fantastic melange of aged chocolate, wine, hops and fruit. The last time I had a beer this well constructed it was a Westy 8. I love Rogue and North Coast's take on this style but I must say that Stone have created something quite sublime and full of the brewers soul.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.73/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - opaque black, dark mocha head that dissipates to a moderate crown.

Aroma - dark smoky espresso with mild soy sauce, intense and thick.

Taste - sweet up front, then progresses smoothly into coffee flavors, delicious and roasty. 10.8% abv comes through but is masked extremely well. Ends with a mild alcohol warmth, chocolate and espresso.

Mouthfeel - smooth, rich, and moderately carbonated.

Drinkability - perhaps the most drinkable 10%+ beer I've ever had.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the glass black, midnight black, the head was very low, dark brown, but was persistent and laced the glass.

The aroma was strong expresso coffee, dark chocolate and fruitiness blended with some higher alcohols. The fruits were dark and that of raisins and prunes.

The flavor was dark chocolate with raisins and prunes and other fruits. The malt had a sweetness that was comanded by the acidity of the dark grains. The expresso flavor tamed the sweetness into submission and then held it on the ground till it was made to cry Uncle. The bitterness component in the flavor was slightly grassy and understated again held in place by chocolate and coffee.

The finish was dry with a lasting coffee and chocolate mixed with dark fruits long into the aftertaste. The body was full, every bit of it. Alcohol made it's presence known in the aroma, but really only shined in the warming sensation that occured after consumption.

22 ounce bottle. 2004 early summer release. The head must have been impaired by the alcohol content of the beer. The alcohol also lowers the drinkability slightly.

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Photo of BeerFink
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 release, served from a 22oz bomber...

This seemingly demonic brew blackens my snifter as a sticky brown head arises like a phoenix. As I consume this stout, sticky lace accumulates on the sides of the glass. No light is visible anywhere in this blackness. Huge aromas eminate from the glass - dark fruit (black currants) is up front, along with lots of black coffee and some bitter chocolate. Alcohol is also apparent in the nose. Taste is quite complex. Roasted barley and black patent flavors are quick to attack the palate. The dry malt blitzkrieg is followed by sweet fruits. I'm thinking about raisins, black currants, and prunes as this stout permeates my digestive system. Coffee and and a little chocolate are also apparent, lingering til the bitter end. The faintest hint of hops are apparent, but are not long in the world of this stout. Alcohol is not hidden at all - it takes control of the flavor a little too quickly, but is not totally overpowering. There is a classic roasted finish, enhanced by the warming alcohol. The sweet fruit flavor balances the roast taste like few others. The 10.8% abv warms the body quite like a wine. Good carbonation balances the heavy mouthfeel. Although not the stickiest of imperials, you still feel like you need a toothbrush to be rid of this brew. Chalk up another heavy hitting ass kicking brew from Stone.

I couldn't think of a better way to sum up this stout than an excerpt from the bottle: "It almost seems evil."

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Photo of Hefe
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber with the Stone Gargoyle doing his job impressively. "Komplicated Beer for Komplicated Times, Komrad" it says at the bottom. Indeed. One hell of a Komplicated brew. Late spring 2003 release served with decadent capitalist chocolate dessert on 3/19/05.

Pours a dark chocolte brown, with light visible at the edges, and a surpisingly thick chocolate head that quickly dissapates to sticky lacing at the rim of the glass. Before I even get my nose anywhere near the glass, it hits me. Molasses, dark roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, dried fruits. The flavours are of a chord with the aromas, the finish is unexpectedly dry given the immense richness and a seeming initial sweetness. Carbonation is very fine, and the mouthfeel would be creamy if not for a viscous richness. Despite the size of this brew it never becomes cloying or overwhelming.


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

This dark beauty poors dark and thick consistent with the style. It has a slight tan head with nice lacing.

Its aroma is filled with alcohol, dark chocolate, and coffee notes. Mouthfeel is full as this high gravity drink delivers a powerful yet surprisingly smooth punch given its high ABV. Taste is outstanding and by far the best I have encountered in this style.

Overall this rates highly with exceptional drinkability. Due to its heavy hitting nature resulting in a slow sipping intake, I suggest a nice cigar accompany this one to bring out the best in both. Take the two in on the back porch with a friend and a debate of philosophy, theology, and politics and you have a glorious night...just remember that drinking this Russian doesn't mean that you aren't a good red blooded American even if commy's come up in the debate.

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Photo of guinnessman
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours with a nice thick soapy brown head. It's dark as night and beautiful. Smells very sweet with little alcohol smell. Has a very thick, very smooth mouthfeel, with a rich chocolate taste. You would never know that this one is 9.7%. Very drinkable!!!

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this while on vacation in Memphis. The color is black, head is medium brown and creamy. Head is very good considering the 10.8% ABV. The aroma is of rich, dark chocolate with slight whiffs of alcohol and roasted coffee. The taste is quite simply amazing. Rich and complex dark chocolate flavor is ruling my world here. Alcohol flavor is noted in the finish. A light roasted taste rounds this out. Another great thing about this beer is that considering the extremely full flavor and high alcohol content, Stone Imperial Russian Stout is amazingly drinkable. This is a beer that every fan needs to get their hands on. I haven't finished my bomber yet and I'm already mad that I can't get more locally. Note to Stone Brewing: Please, please, please bring your full product line to Texas.

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Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Opaque, with a small tan head, which retains very well, with excellent broken lacing.

Aroma: Coffee, bitter chocolate, dark fruit, and strong alcohol notes utterly dominate the aroma.

Taste: Opens with sweet alcohol, dark malt, there is a vinous note that carries throughout; dark fruits are present throughout most of the taste. Finishes with a strong bitter note of cocoa and coffee.

Mouth feel: Smooth and rich body, almost syrupy.

Drinkability/notes: Superb and very drinkable, an excellent cold weather beer.

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Photo of dgallina
4.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Early summer 2004 vintage, sampled February 2005.

Pours a viscous black with no highlights. One finger of tan head that quickly diminishes, leaving little film or lacing. Smells of dark roasted chocolate malt and dark fruits (black-currant, plums, raisins) on a vinous, oily and spicy alcohol base. Flavor starts with sweet fruits, is enlivened with stabs of alcohol spiciness, tons of bitter chocolate and slight roasted coffee malt. The flavors intermingle all the way to the finish, which features bitter roasted coffee and chocolate and a very strong alcohol bite and warming. Quite viscous in the mouth, with nearly imperceptible carbonation and a thick, oily feel.

A gigantic imperial stout. There's no mistaking the alcohol in this beast, but it's well-balanced and nicely warming on a long and cold winter night.

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Photo of Wonka
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber
10.8% Alc. Vol.
2004 release
Brickskeller in D.C.

Appearance: flat black beer; smooth pillowy tan head; lace is ample

Smell: roasted malts, coffee, dark fruits, light molasses, tinge of alcohol

Taste: major roasted malts; a bit bitter in close; plum, date, molasses & chocolate with a touch of caramel to add to smoothness and a drop of alcohol to remind one of the power below; aftertaste is a touch bitter with a great coat of chocolate, coffee, molasses and plum

Mouthfeel: beautifully full and creamy to blanket the mouth; massive network of flavors; very light syrup nature

Drinkability: incredibly smooth monster of a beer; no need to rush

Ladies and gentlemen, we have the undisputed champion of my taste buds. Its an eloquent sipper. Sit back and enjoy.

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

Pours a one-finger brown head that quickly fades leaving traces of lace. Black opaque color. Nice, beefy full bodied. Sweet roasty coffee/chocolate nose. Starts sweet, finishes with some alcohol overtones and there is a slight burnt chocolate aftertaste. $6 for a 22oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Photo of carln26
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown to black color with a nice thick brown head. The head recedes to a nice sheet of lace on the glass as I write this. The aroma is heavy with chocolate and roasted malt notes. There is just a mild hint of citrus hops on the finish. More chocolate notes up front in the flavor. The roasted malt comes across too along with a bigger, brighter hop flavor than I expected. There are layers of flavor in this beer, and the layers come together nicely in the finish. Rich, velvety smooth mouth feel and a high drinkability. One of the best of this style I’ve had the pleasure to try.

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

I've been waiting on thisone for the perfect winters day, well, we've had a few. I pulled this 04 from the basement where its been resting six plus months. Used a Stone pint glass.
It poured black as nite, with a one inch tan head that faded to a thin film rather quickly. The aroma of dark bakers chocolate & cold coffee hit the nose with a tickle of alcohol. The taste carries that chocolate coffee with the alcohol in full notice to help warm things up. Other flavors are roasted malts, and dark fruit.
The mouthfeel was abit softer than expected, perhaps carbonation finds it way to help soften. Drinkability is good as a sipper or to share as a desert beer.
I found I enjoyed this Imperial more-so than even the porter. IMO

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Photo of SaunaKing
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A black black colour devoid of any light. A few times a year i wake up at night or turn off the lights to absolute blackness. I cant see 8 inches in front of me. I can stand there a few minutes to let my eyes adjust but it does no good. Thats the colour of this beer. The head is a beautiful tan brown. Dense and creamy. Leaves decent lacing on my glass too. The aromas are dominated by malt. Hints of coffee adn blueberries but most of all the maltiness. The taste is rich and balanced. Malty with a nice hop finish. Suprisingly little aftertaste. Taste is a mixed blend of coffee and choclate and some nuts mixed in there too. I cant detect the high ABV in the taste of this beer.
I had high expectations expecting to be disappointed since I dont usually like high abv beers but this one blew me away in pretty much every respect.
A slight alchol burn in the finish, but a kick ass beer. One of my favorites now for sure. Too bad I cant get it here. And you need to be careful - this shit will fuck you up.

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Photo of dauss
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Standard 22oz. silk screened brown bomber. Funny story on the back about how you might think drinking this beer is committing sin. On the front it says: "Limited Early Summer 2004 Release. Bogartski while you can...". Lots of weird uses of the word "K" such as "Produckt of USA, Komrad" and "Bottle Konditioned". 10.8% ABV.

Appearance: This is jet black, and completely opaque. A head struggles to form, even with a stout pour. Poor retention, no lace whatsoever.

Smell: Sweet-port like, lots of dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, and alcohol.

Taste: Tons of roasted malt. Coffee, lots of chocolate. Sweet and very thick. Alcohol very present, medium hop bitterness throughout.

Notes: Very tasty. Even though the alcohol content is very high, it surprisingly doesn't have the burning solventy alcohol taste, but it is very strong in the taste. Definitely a slow drinking beer.

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Photo of rousee
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- black 2mm head fades to wispy foam within seconds. Very nice lace on sides of glass.

S-Very malty. Slightly sour but very rich and robust. Quite a complex smell. It has some strong alcohol phenolic qualities but they are not as apparent on the tongue as the nose.

T- Smooth and robust--mild carbonation. Some coffee/chocolate profile and a nice maltiness. Not too different from the Sinebrychoff porter I just had. This one is not quite as good though--not to take anything away from it, this is a fine tasting beer--it is just a little rougher around the edges than the Finnish one I mention.

MF-Nice and dry. Has the velevety mouthfeel that I really like.

D- Too much strong alcohol taste to say it is very drinkable. Yes its smooth--yes its good, but one bomber is plenty.

02/26/08--trying again and all the things I said before still apply now. Cant say its improved much but it didnt need much improving.I think the alcohol heat is a little more noticeable than it was last time I tried this but the bottom line is this is one fine beer.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this off tap a while back and didn't write notes on it, so I'll see what it does out of a bottle. This one comes out black as night with a small tan head sitting atop the viscous looking fluid. The nose is huge. Full of big dark fruity tones, chocolate and hints of black licorice. Wow. The flavor is a blast of alcohol soaked chocolate followed some figgy notes, finishing slightly coffee. I think I am in love. This is great, but it remember the tap being even better. The feel is huge thickness, almost a syrupy residue on the tongue after swallowing. Drinkability is not bad at all for a big ass beer that is thick anc big on flavor. Stone, you do good work. I kick myself for not grabbing a few of these when they came out. Thanks to clvand0 for sharing his spoils with me so I could get some pen ot paper on it.

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Photo of mhowell
3.94/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Late 2003 release. Black as night. Pours beautiful with a nice head that quickly vanishes. Unfortunately, I couldn't smell much, but I could definately taste. Great, thick chocolate taste, with a thick, slimy mouthfeel. Sticky lips, slight alcohol burn, happy feeling! I wish I had another.

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

22oz bottle says this is from the Late 2003 spring release.

Appearance: It pours a black body with a thick dark tan foamy head.

Aroma: Smells deliciously decadent, a chocolate malt masterpiece.

Taste: I taste the roasted malts with a bit of espresso, and about half way through this one I feel the alcohol, though it is subtle through, a little more noticeable to me on the finish.

Mouthfeel: It feels thick and creamy, a solid imperial stout. I would love to try this on a draft.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Been waiting to try this one for some time now. Empties the bomber black as eternal night with a deep dark tan head that rises up to greet me. Thick, syrupy hole...there's no! Bitersweet chocolate, roasted coffee & nuts, black licorice, dark fruits and burnt grains...a cornucopia of sensual delight for the nose. I enjoy just smelling this brew. (I was sniffing so much my fiance wondered what the hell I was doing.)

Incredibly thick roasty coffee and chocolate chewiness rushes over my palate. Hints of black candy licorice, raisins and nuts along with some nice fruity notes. Alcohol singes the back of my palate, but melds in well and enhances the experience. A damn fine imperial stout...I love it.

Smooth, creamy, huge doesn't get any better than this! Velvety smooth. Drinkability is hindered slightly by the big ABV, otherwise this is an awesome brew to have on a cold night..wonderfully crafted and will warm ya up nicely. 100% recommended. Thanks to kmpitz2 and ppoitras for hooking me up with yet another amazing Stone brew!

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Photo of santoslhalper
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Early Summer '04 release.

Appearence: The pour is kick-ass. A deep black with a dark, dark brown head. Loads of carbonation roll up the side. Evil.

Smell: Now that's a stout! Chocolate and coffee are the initial smells, with a giant alcohol undertone. Smells just like a stout should. Excellent.

Taste and Mouthfeel: An explosion of flavor in the mouth. Tart and deep with a phenomenal amount of alcohol. This is very close to what could be the perfect "big beer." Monstrous chewy mouthfeel with a giant lingering aftertaste. The beer gets deeper and thicker as it warms a bit. Odd. But not bad at all.

Drinkability and Overall: This beer is the definition of a BIG BEER. It's huge! Everything about it is big, and powerful, and downright evil. The only thing about this that makes it hard to drink is ABV, but I still love it. Another great Stone offering. Try this.

GClarkage.. I am in your debt for this one.

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Photo of Crotor
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I live for beers like this.

Pours thick and black into my tulip glass. It looks so thick it reminds me of how they use Elmer's-type glue in milk commercials to achieve those thick, ropey pours. This looks like black Elmers glue... As it settles in the glass, a dense, dark brown head rises, and sticks around for quite a while - surprising retention for a beer this big. I like that...

The aroma is big and roasty, with a bit of caremel going on in the back. Good, but not great. Really the only failing is that the aroma is unimpressive when compared to the beer's other aspects.

As I finally drink, there's a massive assault of roasty, chocolatey, espressoey goodness on my tongue. Behind it all there's just a hint of fruit (plum/raisinish). A hint of alcohol is evident, but i's not at all unpleasant. Other characteristics are a reseved bit of sweetness, and perhaps a little mustiness. Overall, the massive yet rounded taste profile is excellently articulated. How can a beer so big and so extreme also be so subtle? It's masterful...

This is without a doubt, the best, and most drinkable RIS I've ever had the pleasure to encounter.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of mrpicklerelish, big up.

Appearance: Dark, dark, opaque black-brown with a cocoa-brown head that fell to just a ring.

Smell: Wow. First, full-on raisins and spice. Then intermingling aromas of unidentifiable dark fruits, molasses, chocolate, burnt brown sugar, burnt sticky buns. Unbelievable. Very similar to an aged Storm King Stout. The benchmark for what an imperial stout should smell like. Perfect.

Taste: Yow. I can barely put this into words. Bittersweet dark chocolate, sweet but burnt raisins, prunes and other dark, ripe fruits, wickedly spicy, burnt syrupy pastries, with a mouth-drying, bitter finish that's preceded by an enormous burn from the hops and high ABV. Like its smell, perfect. I feel privileged to have tried this.

Mouth: Full, silky and smooth. Light carbonation keeps the tongue awake. ABV warms the tongue nicely and gradually. Exactly how one of the best should feel.

Drinkability: So amazing that I was in a constant battle with myself over whether or not I should keep taking massive gulps or sip it quietly. It's the kind of beer that grabs your attention and blocks out the rest of the world for you. I had but bottle and now it's gone. I want to cry.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 2,668 ratings.