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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,401 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,401
Reviews: 2,620
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 642
Gots: 1,713 | FT: 94
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,401 | Reviews: 2,620 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ncfranklin
4.73/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 Vintage, had on April 18th 2011.

A: Black as death. Thick two finger tall dark brown head. Great lacing along the side.

S: Huge chocolate and roasted malt, small levels of hoppy notes.

T: Complex. Lots of roasted malt but it's not giving a burnt flavor. Instead abundant levels of chocolate, some coffee, and a sugariness is present. Bitter qualities come in on the need lightly, but all hop flavors have practically disappeared.

M: Luscious, velvety texture. Clings to the mouth and lingers their. Pretty heavy, but not the heaviest IRS i've had. Old Rasputin would be slightly thicker.

O: Amazing beer. I can only image what another year or two would do to the complexity.

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

22oz. bottle of Spring 2009 release.

A – Poured into snifter. Cola-colored black. Only 1 finger of dark tan head that dissipated quickly. Nearly no lacing left behind on the glass.

S – Overwhelming level of roasted malts and caramel. A hint of coffee and alcohol are apparent.

T – The complexity of malts is interesting. First sweet roasted malts that are a bit nutty come through. This gives way to a nice bitterness similar to drinking espresso or eating dark chocolate that lingers on your palate. Some hops can be noted in the finish.

M – Heavy on the palate. Medium level of carbonation. There is also a fair amount of burn from the 10.5% alcohol.

D – Nice representation of an Imperial Russian Stout. Liked it and would recommend trying. Glad I let it age for 2 years.

Photo of Digimaika2
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pitch black with a frothy head that fades to a beautiful ring of mocha bubbles. Nice and thick viscosity when poured.

S: Dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, with a caramel malty sweetness. Alcohol is there but nicely hidden. I've never been able to smell so much dark chocolate in a brew before. Smells delicious.

T: Smoky dark chocolate notes are prevalent up front along with a roasted caramel malt flavour. A more subdued dark coffee taste in the background, with hints of licorice and vanilla. Warming alcohol is certainly there, but not the focal point. Lingering yet pleasant cocoa bitterness at the end. Overall beautifully balanced.

M: Perfect. Thick and creamy motor-oil, with slight carbonation.

D: This is one heck of a great beverage, from a brewery that certainly knows whats going on. I could very well sip several of these in an evening. I definitely recommend this to RIS lovers and dark chocolate lovers alike.

Photo of sugeknight6289
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter.

Pours black as the night with nothing seen through it but reflections. A nice mocha tan brown head bubbles up and sticks around for a little providing creamy rings of lacing.

Something sour like a grape plays in the background along with dominant coffee/dark chocolate flavors. Also reeks of raisans and molasses. A rich brew egging you on to dive into the darkness.

Hop biterness hits the front of the tongue provided with a little smoke from the roasted malt. The biterness gets steam rolled by the smooth dark chocolate. Hints of coffee linger behind. The hotness from the booze is felt rolling down the back of the throat. Very well balanced brew. Also has hints of licorice too.

Creamy rich feel with good amount of biterness. Lower carbonation but the right amount for a RIS.

A perfect brew for a cold night or around the campfire. The alcohol sweeteness becomes dominating towards the end of the bomber but besides that its a well balanced, exceptional example of the style. Another win for Stone.

Photo of London1985
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brought this on limited shipment from Utobeer in London.

Have always read up and seen excellent reviews on this and always wanted to try it.

Pours a beautiful black, thick viscous liquid that leaves very pretty lacing on the glass due to the high alcohol content.

You really have to dive right in close with your nose to get any aromas but when you do its very sweet and satisfying.

When you sip it your are met with a complex range of roasted malts giving it a very subtle smokey/coffee flavour and then you are hit with an exceptional taste of sweet caramel and vanilla. This is a very well balanced brew and very well made.

I absolutely love this stout, and the next time i see it avaliable i will be stocking up on atleast a case.

Great work from Stone and a perfect time to get it right, as i recently sampled Arrogant Bastard and was not very impressed.

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

Spring 2010 22oz bomber poured into a Maudite snifter...

A: Coffee black with a minimal, tan head; wispy retention leaves no lace.

S: Roasted coffee / burnt malts; dark chocolate; some alcohol; some sweet bread and dark fruit in the background; molasses.

T: Rich maltiness... roast coffee and dark cocoa; currants; leafy hop bitterness toward the finish; very rich overall - lots of tiny complexities that add up to a great tasting Russian imperial stout.

M: Near full-bodied and velvety; luscious; kind of high carbonation, but that makes for a good palate washer.

D/O: Very drinkable and delicious... 10.5%??! Hard to believe.

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

5-6 oz. tasting sample at Kelleher's in Peoria in a mini-pint glass. One of the on-tap offerings from the Stone release party on April 5th, 2011. Got a full serving of it in a goblet shortly after the flight tasting.

Ah, yes. Been looking forward to this one since I began my adventure here on BA.

Pours midnight black, completely opaque. Refuses to let any light get through to the other side. Doesn't appear oily or obnoxiously-thick. Minimal, mocha-colored head that was barely a half finger to start with and reduces down to a bare coating over the rest of the drink thereafter. Nice alcohol feet around the sides. Hardly any lacing to speak of.

The aroma is good. Not great, but good. Lots of dark chocolate and roasted notes... probably the most dark chocolate I've yet to pull out of any beer in this style. No hops or citrus detection, which I like. Maybe a little coffee, no real dark fruit. Just predominantly that awesome roasted chocolate character with good balance that isn't a complete aroma bomb.

This is fantastic beer to drink. The taste exemplifies that dark chocolate character to it's fullest throughout the entire length of the drink. Smooth, creamy sweetness at the front transitions beautifully to bitter cocoa beans at the back. Again, more roasted notes to complement the chocolate. Coffee undertone might contribute a bit towards the backend bitterness. Great aftertaste, long and quite dry finish.

It feel a bit chewy with a heavy body. Not milkshake heavy, but enough so to support the flavors. Extremely smooth. Appropriate carbonation.

Well done Stone. This is easily my favorite beer from this brewer so far. Zero alcohol detection in both aroma and taste. Balanced yet powerfully-flavorful. Not overbearing on the palate. Just a well-executed beer in every aspect.

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

Poured from a tall-boy bottle into a beer taster (4 oz.) glass for optimum enjoyment.

Appearance: Pours a totally-opaque cola color with a minimum amount of excess carbonation. Two-finger head exhibits a cappuccino-style frothiness that scintillates. The head recedes *very* slowly, leaving a very thick lacing on the sides of the glass. After five minutes, I've only lost about 1/2 finger of head. Amazing retention.

Smell: Heavily roasted caramel-type malt dominates the nose in this particular batch. Medium-sweet chocolate and gentle coffee bean tones are also present, with just a touch of licorice and/or anise thrown in for good measure. A slight suggestion of purple fruit (raisins, plums, etc.). Just a touch pungent in the fruit area, but otherwise spot-on.

Taste: So much to taste here! A really intriguing combination. Bitterness hits first (hops/coffee). As the beer foams a bit, the sweetness is revealed (chocolate/cola/caramel). The alcohol is only mildly offensive, quite a feat for a beer boasting a 10.50% ABV. Aftertaste is a smooth bitterness akin to dark chocolate, with some alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel: Beer enters smoothly, endures only a mild carbonation, and leaves just a slight, oily residue upon imbibing.

Overall: Nearly perfect...the last time I had this, I don't remember it being so pungent...perhaps I had better let the beer warm up a touch next time (it came out of the fridge...I usually cellar it for a while)...there may be another review of this soon.

Photo of ExtraStout
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This poured like used motor oil. It's just plain black, without an ounce of head aside from the small ring around the inside of the glass. It leaves a delicate and small lace as it goes down.

The taste is outright powerful, with a hint of licorice. The alcoholic content is certainly present, although not overwhelmingly so. All things considered, it's a well-balanced beer. I've had some imperial stouts lately that didn't quite live up to the name, but this one definitely does not come up short. In fact, it could almost be toned down a bit.

This is one big stout.

Photo of BobZ
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. Bottle poured into my Duvel Tulip. This is the 2010 release aged for one year.

Appearance: Very dark brown almost black. Little to no head both initially and throughout, mostly just a dark tan ring with minimal lacing.

Smell: Depth jumps out, again big chocolate first then big coffee.

Taste: Just like the nose with bitter dark chocolate is up front on this aged bottle, coffee mixes in nicely throughout the beer; and both flavors dominate. I find the dark chocolate flavor lingers pleasantly in the finish.

Mouth feel: Again very smooth but somewhat thin feeling on the palate, definitely thinner than other RIS's.

Overall: A very rich beer and I was glad to have the bomber but like Founder's breakfast stout it is nowhere near as delicious as the Belgian De Struise stouts.

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.61/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First review, so bear with me. This is the first beer I've had that has literally compelled me to write something about it - it's that good.

A - Deep, dark, brown; almost opaque. Not a whole lot of head, but what's there is nice and creamy; some delicate lacing here and there.

S - Not really what I was expecting for a Stone brew. I had a feeling there would much more kick in this area, especially after sampling their Arrogant Bastard. Still, a couple of quick sniffs give a very mild offering of coffee and malted hops. Not bad at all.

T - Exquisite. First thing that hits you is the sweet: chocolate, malt. It instantly draws you in. Then it pummels you with the perfect blend of hops and alcohol; just bitter enough to leave you wanting more. This is an extremely well-crafted beer.

M - Not as creamy as most RIS's, or most stouts for that matter. While it's pretty different, the carbonation does add to the drinkability.

O - A phenomenal work of craftsmanship. I can honestly say that this is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorites. And for about $7 a pint, what's more to love?

Photo of dragonWhale
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07 on tap at The Gate for the Stone event. Delicious and only $7/pint..Hells yes please. Angry and black it pours with a dark brown head, roast and alcohol dominate with some hop aroma, very faded, a little smoke, a little coffee. Very tasty, aromas a little faded, and a little surprising how dominant the alcohol still was in this one 3 years later. Damn good, and another reminder of the continued excellence of these SoCal cats.

Photo of JLeege
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage - Poured into a snifter

Appearance- Pours black with a dense two finger, tan head. Good retention, lots of lace left behind.

Smell- Dark chocolate, cocoa, light roasted coffee, a hint of maple syrup, dark fruit.

Taste- Sweet milky chocolate starts things off, with a bit of dried cocoa. Giving this almost a chocolate cake taste at the start. That leads into subtle hints of caramel and maple, and dark fruits, prune and currants mostly. There is a subtle spice in here too, the bottle says anise, so I will go with that. A little roast on the finish, light coffee and piney sided hops. Flavor lingers for just the right amount of time.

Mouthfeel- Velvety smooth. Perfect amount of carbonation, the ABV's go virtually unnoticed.

Overall- Great RIS, or should I say IRS. The nose is a bit muted but besides for that it is right on par with some of the best in the world. The cheaper price point for these bombers makes it a very attractive option.

Photo of nightwing002
3.49/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 22 oz poured into a Bruery tulip glass

A - poured black jet black into glass with a nice one finger brown head. head dissipated fairly quickly and laced nicely on glass.

S - smelled of chocolate, burnt coffee, and some alcohol

T - first thought was very bitter coffee taste that gave way to an acidic taste. very warm feeling from the alcohol. got a little better as it came to room temp.

M - decent carbonation that gave a nice mouth feel

D - good for a stout, but seemed like it would benefit from a bit of aging. definitely a sipper in its current state. i couldn't finish this by myself. i will try an 09 bottle soon to see if aging will make a difference.

Photo of tewaris
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
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
4.08/5  rDev -6%
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
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
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
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
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
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
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
3.66/5  rDev -15.7%
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
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
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
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
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
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
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
3.86/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,401 ratings.