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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.

7,287 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,287
Reviews: 2,601
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 585
Gots: 1,633 | FT: 95
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: 7,287 | Reviews: 2,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tewaris
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

10.8% ABV; 90 IBU's
Served in a 10 oz. tulip.

Signature RIS, this beer looks black, opaque, and shiny; boasting a one finger creamy dark tan head. The head retention is good and some lacing is seen on the glass as it gets empty. When the head subsides completely, very dark brown highlights reveal its true color.

I still have to have an RIS whose aroma will wow me, and Stone IRS is not that beer. Generic roast and sweet malts, pretty much. But the taste is a lot to my liking -- coffee, roast and acidity are alive here unlike the -bal version. A big beer that has notes of dark fruit and charred beans and a roasty, bittering and warming finish.

Great mouthfeel on this one, with very present but not overwhelming carbonation and good body. Just as good as any other RIS that I have had, and one of the most balanced ones: not too roasty, not too acidic, not too sweet, just right!

Scores: Appearance 5/5, Aroma 3/5, Taste 4/5, Mouthfeel 4.5/5, Overall 5/5

Photo of weazal
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled a 2006 and 2008 in Dec 2010.

2006 - Brighter, more acidic. Overall light and sweet. Definitely chocolate and coffee. The aroma was too faint. Rating=3

2008 - Smelled thicker, less bright and had a more dense aroma. Chocolate was more prevalent than coffee. Rating=4

2006 - Thick, strong, bold, and nicely rounded. The duration of the experience wasn't too short and not too long. A bit smoky and most of the flavor kicked in towards the end with a rich chocolate notes. Rating=4.5 to 5.

2008 - Had a similar initial taste as the 2006, but the flavor ended too quickly and lightly. There's a smokiness that kicks in halfway, but everything seems to drop off prematurely. Leaving a lingering bitterness at the end. Rating=4.

Photo of mrnobody
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours an impenetrable black with a finger and a half of coffee coloured head; not much retention but leaves some lacing.

S: Very rich smelling: dark chocolate, licorice, booze, coffee but all well integrated.

T: OMG! Where to begin? It's like there's a party in my mouth and everyone's invited. ;) Rich and sweet but with tons of complexity. Layers upon layers of all the elements from the aroma.

M: Creamy and full bodied with an ideal level of carbonation.

D: Drinkability is through the roof! An exceptional stout.

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had a 2010 vintage a few months ago so this is from my notes. poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter.

A This beer pours a very nice black color looks almost like motor oil with a nice brownish head.

S The nose of the beer is very rich with smells of coffee and chocolate being dominant, and with a hint of sweetness coming through.

T The best part of this beer. Upon drinking you are bombarded with chocolate and coffee with notes of caramel roastiness and alcohol. The chocolate is by far the dominant flavor though.

M This beer is so smooth and velvety it just goes right down but it still has a pleasing thickness that you want from a russian imperial stout.

Overall this is an amazing beer and a very good representative of the style, in addition to being one of my favorite beers of all time. Well worth having as this is truly a great beer.

A 2011 vintage poured from a bomber into a snifter

A This beer pours a very nice black color looks almost like motor oil with a nice tan head.

S The nose is rich with bitter dark chocolate, a hint of coffee, and some alcohol.

T When you drink this one you get notes of coco, caramel, coffee, and booze. Along with a roasted flavor.

M Goes down far to easily for being 10.5%. If it wasn't for an alcoholic warmth I wouldn't have any idea of the high abv.

Overall the 2011 is still just as good as the 2010, and it is still one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts you can find.

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

Got this bottle through my first trade with johnbjaeger. I was so very happy to get this. Thanks, John!

Spring 2010 release.

22oz bottle all to myself poured into a snifter.

It poured pitch black with a nice two finger light tan head. The head settles rather quickly leaving a nice coating on my glass.

Big nose. Wonderful smells. A light hint of wood smokes opens it all up. After that all the usual suspect in a RIS. Coffee, dark roasted malts and chocolate.

Bold flavors the nose hinted at are all present. Dark malts, coffee and chocolate and again that subtle hint of smoke. It all finishes with a fantastic aftertaste.

Creamy mouthfeel on a medium to full body and a good amount of carbonation. A wee bit of heat on the finsish. Flavors linger nicely.

One of the better ones in the style. It's good and almost great. The only things that comes to mind is that this beer is missing something that makes it stand out. Still: RECOMENDED

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

Been wanting to try this for a while so was glad to find it on tap tonight. Served in a New Belgium chalice. Deep, dark, black body that lets no light through. Good one finger mocha head that actually sticks around for a while and leaves some lacing down the glass.

The aroma is a little less prominent than I had expected, but is solid nonetheless. I primarily note roasted malt followed with a little chocolate and coffee.

BUT, these flavors make up the difference. Near perfect combination of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and a sweet mix of molasses and toffee. Not too sweet, not too bitter, and nearly no notice of alcohol.

The mouthfeel is medium and silky smooth. Overall, a superior RIS.

Photo of badboyrsl84
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010 bottle

Pours pitch black into the pint glass with a diminishing tan head.

Smell - semi-sweet chocolate, roasted malt, some alcohol, and a touch of coffee.

Taste - at first sip I get tons of semi-sweet chocolate. After a few sips it settles in to bitter chocolate up front with a semi- chocolate finish. A little more carbonation than I prefer but over all really well done.

Photo of Nesued
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - "...to pour like Siberian crude" is what Stone's website says about this beer. Well, now I know what to look for if I ever find myself "crossing the snowfields" in Siberia. Yes, pours a dark black, somewhat thick. A nice two-finger tan head formed that provided nice lacing on the pint glass as it faded.

Smell - The nose is fantastic. Big malty/roasty nose and some fruit qualities add to a lush bouquet. Some sweetness as well, but it takes a minor role.

Taste - This had four years on it in my cellar (ok...beer closet) to age. I will say it has matured nicely. Rich malty body, some vanilla notes. Mostly caramel, toffee bringing the depth of flavors to this party. Well done.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation is light to moderate. Nice finish with a ever so slight cleansing bite at the end. Not off-putting at all.

Drinkability - I have a newfound respect for Stone. This is a well-done beer. The density and complexity is worthy of it's ranking in the pantheon of "Beers of Fame".

Photo of bmwats
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 650 ml bottle, into my Duvel s'nulip.

A: Black. Pours about a 1 finger, foamy, brown head. Settles pretty quickly, but leaves a smattering of bubbly carbonation on the surface, and beer ring. Medium carbonation. No lacing. Head renews with each pour.

S: Baked bread malt, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, black licorice, and a little nutmeg.

T: Pungent malty flavor with licorice, unsweetened chocolate, and a little spice.

M: Thick and syrupy. Robust body. High alcohol profile. Bittersweet in the front, and a pungent aftertaste that lingers.

D: Drink slowly and savor the greatness.

Atmosphere is really good. Dark, formidable appearance, with a nice foamy head. Nose is a really great combination of grain, coffee with bitter and sweet spice components. Flavor is hearty malt with a pungent and bittersweet profile. Overall, this is a great quaff.

Photo of vfgccp
4.93/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

- Special thanks to Mark for sharing a perfectly cellared '04 version of this treat -

A - Pitch black, khaki head.

S - Vibrant vanilla, brown sugar, maple sugar, hint of booze.

T - Super smooth coffee, milk chocolate, cream.

M - No booze in the finish at all. Medium bodied with a great smoothness.

Photo of nhindian
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Stone Russian Imperial Stout tulip.

Spring 2010 release.

A - Pours a midnight black, a seriously foreboding beer, with a huge, foamy, 2.5-fingered head. A mixture of thin and thick bubbles reside at the edge of the glass after it dissipates. The lacing is fantastic as well with a nice, scattered coating sticking to the glass.

S - The aroma in this beer is as deep and complex as it looks. Roasted malts make up a bulk of the front of the nose, almost on the brink of being smokey. It even has a bit of fruits in it as well, slight raisins or currants. Besides the roast it is overall pretty sweet, which comes as a bit of a surprise.

T - Again, I'm getting quite a bit of sweetness from this beer in the taste. A strong roast starts the flavors off nicely, paving the way for some fruit and chocolate, which was absent from the nose. Overall it gives a bitter impression, perhaps slightly metallic. Alcohol is well-masked, only giving way to a slight warmth in the finish.

M - Mouthfeel is surprisingly light-bodied with moderate carbonation. It leaves a somewhat fruity and tannic residue on the palate.

D - Drinkability is moderately high. A solid RIS but nothing revolutionary. A bit on the thinner side of the style with a noticeable emphasis on the more fruity side of the taste. An interesting take, for sure, and a great beer for its availability and price.

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

Thanks to Tilley4 for throwing this in as an extra

Poured from bomber into pint goblet - vintage 2010

Poured a dark black with one finger head that dissipated into a thin creamy lacing ,decent carbonation.

Smell - Roasted Malts with black strap molasses ,mild chocolate hints.slight coffee

Taste - Black strap molasses with deep roasted malts, anise with some mild chocolates,slight coffee hints,some sweetness

Drinkability - Wow is all I can say - Nice creamy RIS with great flavors that blend together well - still a bit hot but I'm not complaining. Thanks again Tilley4 - you seen I had this on my wants and threw it in as an extra -you'r the man.

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

I have (2) 2008's still, another 2009, and some 2010's. Not sure why I grabbed the 2009 over the 2008...oh well. I've had this before but have never reviewed...and was perhaps a bit tipsy. Here goes!

Appearance - Pours an understandably black, dark color into my Darkness Tulip. Over a finger of mocha colored head is achieved that dissipates somewhat fast, leaving great looking lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Heavy dark fruits, coffee, roasted malt, lots of chocolate, slight booze. Is there really just a hint of hoppy aroma also still after all this time?

Taste - The taste is essentially what I expected from the nose. Quite strong roasted malts, cocoa, black licorice (which I didn't notice in the aroma), raisins/figs, slight vanilla. No alcohol really....

Mouthfeel - Medium to thicker bodied. Lower carbonation.

Drinkability - Quaffable for sure. Can't wait to open up the 2008 I have. Very little alcohol warming. Delicious.

Photo of orangesol
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint.

A - Pours jet black with a small half finger tall tan head, dissipating down to almost nothing, leaving very little lacing down the glass.

S - Lots of dark roast, bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, and some vanilla sweetness. Not as sweet and roasty as some of the others, more of a balanced nose.

T - Rich coffee, chocolate, and lots of dark roast mix well to form a well rounded stout. Finish is roasty, but not to the point of being overpowering, and it lingers for a good amount of time. Easily one of the best beers on the market today. I am glad I have a few of these in the cellar.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Thick viscous feel with a good amount of lingering roast in the finish.

D - Very high. I have always loved this beer and I would even say it is one of my all time favorites. You would be hard pressed to find a better beer for your money.

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

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage. I wasn't planning on aging this bottle this. I actually prefer this one fresh. I will review it again when this year's release comes out. Pours pitch black with two fingers of roasted brown, frothy head. Decent lacing. Nose is mainly roasted coffee and brown sugar malt with nice cocoa and dark chocolate notes. A hint of alcohol can be detected as well. Very rich and full bodied mouthfeel but not too heavy or syrupy. Carbonation is right where it needs to be for the style. Malty sweet on the palate with a slight hint of alcohol. Bittersweet chocolate throughout, with a coffee and cream finish. The hops aren't quite gone either, keeping it from being too sweet and malty. Very drinkable for such a big beer. I haven't had this in a couple of years and it is still one of my faves. As much as I like this aged bottle, I can't wait to pick up a fresh one soon.

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

12 oz bottle of 2008 from drgonzo in the Black Booty BIF. Poured into a snifter.

Pours an opaque, jet black with a thin light tan head, that drops quickly to barely even a ghostly wisp. No lacing, but legs evident.

Aroma of big dark fruit, prunes, raisins, figs, dates, some sherry, (drunken dark fruit?), some roastiness.

Flavor of dark caramel, high content dark cocoa, sherry, prunes, rum raisins. Some roasty bitterness. Finish is medium, boozy, alcohol burn with some roasted malt character.

Mouthfeel is a drying bitterness from grains, not hops, big chewy roasted malt character.

Very drinkable/sippable beer. Good on a winter's night, better as it warms up a bit in the glass.

Photo of mdaschaf
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mikesgroove for sending me this bottle, 2008 vintage!

A: Poured into a DFH snifter. Pours very dark black, can see no light through it at all. Small mocha head forms and dissipates quickly leaving a ring of foam around the edge.

S: Tons of chocolate, I can smell it without even bringing the beer to my nose, it almost has a chocolate milk aroma, some lactose mixed in with the cocoa. A also get a little bit of mint at the end.

T: Wow. The flavor is amazing, I am kicking myself for not getting any of this beer sooner. Very similar to the aroma, the chocolate flavor is massive and extremely rich. There is a little bit of coffee and a touch of dark fruit, but the chocolate dominates..and that makes me happy.

M/D: Definitely fuller bodied, very creamy, and no trace of the alcohol after sitting for a couple of years. Overall, one of the best in the style I have had. Going to head and out and pick some up to age I think.

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.

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

22oz bottle with "Limited Spring 2010 Release". Pours an in need of an oil change black with a tan head. Good amount of lacing. Aroma is of chocolate, smokiness, coffee, and roasted malts. Taste is a mix of boozey roasted malts and chocolate. Smokey flavor throughout. Slight coffee flavor. This is one heavy brew. Alcohol flavor is present but not overly abusive. Nice burn. One of the best Russian Imperial Stouts out there.

Photo of ehammond1
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5


Stone Brew Co.
Escondido, CA
02-27-2011 Sunday Funday Growler Fills

(Aged 6 years at the brewery)

2005 Stone Imperial Russian Stout

A midnight black pour with a medium sized head of brown and frothy bubbles. The head is the darkest I've ever seen. A devilishly beautiful beer! Some sticking bubbles and dots of unmoving lace appear down the glass. If the devil brewed a beer, I'm sure this is what he'd have it look like: complete sin and decadence.

The aroma is pure malty goodness. I don't detect any hops but they would only get in the way of this sweet and rich treat. I smell chocolate, and coffee, and something I really want to describe as "Red Vines Licorice."
The nose evolves as the beer warms, much like my experience with extraordinary quads and complex Belgian strong dark ales. I can now smell some charred fruits, namely figs, caramel, and wood. I keep returning to the pleasant licorice scent as it seems to become more and more apparent.

The taste is as interesting and varied as the nose. A smooth combination of roasted sweet malts, chocolate, a touch of coffee, and then an unusual and unexpected mix of charred dark fruits and an earthy woodiness I'm not oft to find in Russian Imperial Stouts. A bit of licorice but not nearly as much as I find in the nose.
This beer seems to push the boundaries of what a RIS is and can be. With basically zero hop bitterness, all the complex flavors from the malts can shine through.
I don't see how it could get better than this!

A medium to full bodied RIS with a moderate level of carbonation. I'm sure some has been lost over the 6 years of aging. I wish it was just a tad more luscious, creamy, and velvety. Although the mouthfeel certainly hasn't deterred me from putting this beer on a very, very high pedestal.

A remarkably drinkable and complex RIS. This beer does so many things so perfectly. A true marvel. Bravo!

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

Delicious! Has the typical attributes of a fine quality Russian Imperial Stout ... pours like used motor oil, dark, rich, aromatic.

A beautifully balanced beer, there is a sweetness present which seperates this beer from the rest. IMO it tastes much like Dragon's Milk from New Holland but with a little more hop spiciness and bite.

This is what an imperial stout should be!

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

Drinking 06 and 10 side by side

Both pour very dark. 2010 has lots of head. 2006 has almost none. Both have reddish tints. Both smell roasty and dark with chocolate on the nose. Fairly non descript on the nose. Tastes sweet and bitter for both vintages. 2010 is sharp and bitter. The 2006 vintage is really smooth and rich. The chocolate blends well with the roast. This one ages super well! Thick solid mouthfeel. Vry drinkable

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter

A- Motor oil appearance, slight lacing, and small tannish head, from pouring this you can tell it's a big full bodied beer.
S- Very surprising sweet almost fruity aromas, molasses comes out, hints of chocolate as well; you get a slight alcohol aroma out of this baby.
T- Sweet molasses is very evident, slight bitterness mixed in with the coffee taste, very balanced.
M- Warm well balanced, leaves mouth dry at the end
D- Sweet, molasses, very well balanced with all the tastes and aromas that hit your nose. Smooth easy drink especially for the high abv. Fruitiness and sweetness stand out for this stout. I truly enjoyed this gem, excellent beer.

Photo of RossCain
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bottle dated Spring 2010 into a snifter

A: Pours a deep, thick and viscous black with a small cocoa colored head. You can just tell from swirling the glass that this is a full bodied beer.

S: Deep roasted malts upfront mixed with notes of raisin and prunes. Unfortunately, there is an off-putting waft of soy in the back of the aroma which I just cannot wrap my head around.

T: Big, bold and robust notes of dark chocolate upfront with a big roasty malt profile. The flavor really punches you in the mouth in a thick and coating manner but it surprisingly finishes with a certain sweetness that slowly fades from the palate.

M: Thick, viscous, full bodied with the right amount of carbonation. A tad bit stressing on the palate after sipping for a while by the surprisingly smooth/sweet finish helps to balances things out. There is a certain warming character of the alcohol in the stomach but what else would you expect from a 10.5% brew?

D: Big and flavorful, this is certainly a tasty and well crafted brew. I couldn't imagine finishing more than a bottle and again that would likely be the only beer of the night. I was a tad disappointed by the character of soy that kept popping up in the aroma which put a damper of a sorts on the experience.

Photo of BeardedRiker
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I decided it was time to get another stout so I picked up Stone's.

This brew looked great when I poured it out. I got a nice thick frothy head that was cappuccino colored. It was a bit slow forming too and I like beers that have that character. Color of the beer itself was like coffee or the darkest of chocolate. I only got a bit of color lightening around the edges when put up to a light.

This Stone was very aromatic that delighted my senses, having the aromas of cocoa, roasted malts, roasted coffee, and it also had a chocolate sweetness too.

Upon my first sip I immediately noticed that 10.5% ABV the beer has. Let me tell you after drinking it all I was ready for some sleep! After the initial alcohol taste came the coffee, malty sweetness and smoothness, and dark cocoa. I thought it would have a bit more flavor to it because of the impressive aroma but in all this was a good imperial Russian stout, being in-your-face.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 7,287 ratings.