Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

7,295 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,295
Reviews: 2,602
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 592
Gots: 1,644 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,295 | Reviews: 2,602 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RaulMatisse
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes you want your beer to kick you around a little bit. In the case of Stone Imperial Russian Stout, you'd better like your beer to kick you square in the face. This goliath threatens to crush you with all the Red Army's might, bodes ominously with the risk of a nuclear winter, and promises a perestroika of your palette in declaring a Cold War against any and all sissy, thin, flat, pseudo-stouts.

If enriched uranium is jet black and nuclear bombshells have a stocky, glass body with a longneck, then Stone IRS should be protected under international treaties as a WMD. The only difference between this ballistic missile and those lost in the sands of the Middle East is that I actually stumbled upon this bomber in plain view for a fraction of the $10 trillion required to find a warhead of similar magnitude.

Stone IRS oozes a deep, rich black, forming looming islands of large, glossy bubbles that accumulate on the perimeters of my cognac glass. Spanning between the ethereal islands is an abysmally black lake weighted by ominous swirls of charred bone-colored streaks. Islands decay and erode sending midnight waves that threaten the seemingly impenetrable surface tension of the obsidian brew.

A beer of this complexity requires several whiffs at regular intervals to truly appreciate the depth of aroma--mere comparisons to coffee or chocolate will not suffice. Such is to equate the subtle aroma of cave-aged Gruyere to a block of Velveeta. Shallow sniffs yield the ubiquitous roasted malt, with progressively deeper inhalations producing increasingly intense aromas of dark chocolate raspberry, black fruits, wet earth, and an ever-escalating alcohol burn. Think splashing a cup of vodka into a scalding-hot pan and breathing the distillates. The amalgamation of these rich scents prepares the palette for what lies ahead...

...Utter destruction. Total annihilation. A blitzkrieg of the most cunningly vicious infantrymen could not keep a foothold when faced with the slash and burn that is Stone IRS. Opponents beware: this menace lives up to its namesake--imperializing your virgin palate is all in a day's work. Hide your women and children--the opposition has arrived, and it's shrouded in black and will strike without notice.

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

22 oz bomber poured into a tulip glass.

A - Black as night and viscous with a frothy coffee brown head, bubbling up and unleashing a thick head with substantial retention and some stick lacing.

S - Thick roasted malts, caramel, coffee, chocolate, and a hint of booze.

T - This beer is massive. Beginning with heavy malts mixed with grain, some rich sweetness kicks in with molasses and roasted qualities. The 10.5% alcohol is present but definitely not overbearing, as dark fruit and chocolate flavors wrap around the palate along with a dash of heat from the booze and hops. It finishes clear and dry along with some tingly warmth and stickiness.

M/D - An overall mix of creaminess, smoothness, warmth, and crispiness. This is a true slow sipper, but it's so delicious that you might find it difficult not to drink it too fast.

Stone Brewing Company is on point as always. This is a nearly infallible beer, with boatloads of delectable qualities. Released every spring, this is a MUST have for pretty much everyone.

Photo of biggied
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Spring 2010 on tap at Stone Gardens.

A: Jet-black with a medium brown head that dissipates slowly and leaves a somewhat thick ring of lace behind.

S: Very, very rich chocolately smell with some notes of caramel and a sligtly harsh touch from the alcohol. This smells very rich and inviting.

T: Very nice roasty beginning, finishing with sweet chocolate and bitter coffee notes. Also has a hint of sour alcohol. The hops from this one have probably aged away, but there is a slight hint of grassiness after the finish.

M: Thick, chewy, and creamy body with balanced carbonation and a dry finish with a bit of a warmth from the alcohol at the end. Very heavy.

D: This beer is great. Not the best stout I had- I haven't tried this one without age, but I can imagine that the flavor brings out the rich flavor of this which is extremely enjoyable. This beer needs to be sipped and savored and probably cellared before that.

Serving type: bottle

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

Serving: Bomber into a tall lager glass.

A: Poured a solid, opaque black, with about a quarter inch of head that receded very quickly. A fair level of carbonation is visible.

S: Has a toasted coffee smell to it which is quite mild.

T: Roasted malt and espresso with a slightly bitter backbone. The alcohol is slightly noticeable on the finish. Otherwise, extremely smooth. Delicious.

M: Leaves a very pleasant thick film in the mouth. The roasted malty taste hangs around for a while as well. Very good.

D: A very tasty smooth, drinkable imperial stout. Without a doubt, the alcohol in this one will creep up on you. I'd drink it until I fell off my chair.

Photo of ToasterChef
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Pours a deep black and very opaque. There is a modest tan foam head that settles to a skim. Swirling the beer around left a filmy coat on the sides of the glass. I can smell roasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate wafting off of the beer. It's a good mixture of sweet and bitter. The taste is of slightly creamy chocolate up front. In the finish is coffee bitterness and some effervescent alcohol. The flavor lets you know this is a strong beer. It has a creamy body. It isn't as full-bodied as some other stouts. There is a medium level of carbonation. There is a bit of coating, but not too much. Nor is it very sticky, which is nice. This is pretty drinkable as a single glass, and I think I could go through an entire 22oz bottle, but the strength and bitter finish are limiting factors.

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.16/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.5

A-Tan head sits upon a midnight black body.

S-Roasty coffee. Chocolate. Little bit of fruit. Some booze.

T-Very roasty. Coffee and chocolate. Excellent burnt coffee flavor. Booze is detectable but helps to add depth. Some mild dark fruit notes as well.

M-Thick as oil. Perfect for a stout. A monster.

D-Definately a sipper. Alcohol content works well with the style but is still there. I don't expect any stout of this magnitude to be very drinkable beyond one serving.

Photo of ne0m00re
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

06/04/10- Had this one on-tap at Bob's Bar in a snifter.
A: Black with very red--yet thin--hues, good lace/collar/film that is a tan color.
S: Very smokey (with a burnt charcoal characteristic), nice espresso, dark chocolate, and less caramel than expected from the style.
T: Sweeter than expected from the aroma, very smokey burnt, deliciously roasted with some oats, but very smooth.
M: Creamy and frothy and really good, only mildly syrupy.
D: Really good. Equivalent to Old Raspy.

Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my tasting snifter. Pours a dark black...completely black as night in the glass...with a massive toffee colored frothy head with very decent retention. Held up to the light, there's a slight brownish rim amoungst all the darkness! Leaves a nice display of semi-sicky lacing.

Aroma is sweet and bitter. Chocoalates for the sweetness, and roasted malts and coffee for the bitters. A very faint booziness chimes through.

Flavor is very much like I though it would be...which means it isn't disappointing in the least. Lots of coffee notes, a heavy deep roast...along with the bitter/sweet coffee flavor throughout. The hop factor is subtle. There's a nice booziness to the mouthfeel, along with a semi-thick medium body, mild carbonation, and delicious! A very tasty stout from Stone.

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

Spring 2010 Limited Release 22 oz

Pours pitch black with a quickly dissipating dark brown head. Looks majestic. Nose contains burned coffee and chocolate malts, precisely what I expect in a RIS. There is a slight bitter hop flavor in the beer, but it is no match for the roasted chocolaty and coffee malt flavors that dominate. Rich and chewy texture with fairly low carbonation. Not overly sweet, this beer has the perfect types of malt for this style. Definite alcohol presence, especially as the beer warms.

Incredible beer! My consumption is only limited by the high alcohol content and local unavailability; otherwise I could drink this amazing beer all night. Stone is easily one of my favorite breweries, further confirmed by this amazing beer.

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

Spring 2010 Bomber:

A- Poured from the bottle with a substantial proteinaceous tan colored head, which produced some fantastic sticky lacing over a completely opaque jet-black body. No visible carbonation.

S- Soft roasted malts, dark chocolate- no perceptible hop aroma- a touch of coffee... a soft, yet subtly rich aroma overall.

T- In the mouth you have roasted malt and chocolate up-front. You get a moderate hop flavor midway, which turns to hop bitterness. A little huskiness and anise in the flavor as well. In the finish, the hop bitterness and a touch of booze lingers on the tongue.

M- A thick, chewy mouthfeel. With a substantial creaminess from both soft carbonation and unattenuated sugar. Slight astringency. And a touch of EtOH heat. Quite substantial overall.

D- This wonderfully crafted brew never seems to become overpowering with any given aspect. Quaffable for such a high ABV. Kudos to Stone.

Photo of silentjay
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a 2008 vintage found left over in a local store. Has been left on the shelf for the past couple of years, not ideal aging conditions, but it should hold up ok.

an extremely viscous pour of an opaque black liquid with brown highlights. a small tan head is produced, but quickly recedes to a spattering of film, but leaves a good amount of lacing behind.

most dominant aroma is licorice, with molasses, burnt bitter coffee, roasted malts, some dark chocolate. also some fruitiness.

taste is similar to the aroma, but has even more charred roastiness. still there is molasses, coffee, and dark baker's chocolate. some raisins, dates, prunes and a bit of earthiness. a bit of harsh booze, but nowhere near as much as in a fresh bottle.

thick body with just enough carbonation to make an appearance, but not so much that it takes away from the creaminess. finishes a tad dry and roasty and with some discernible bitterness and a slight warming from the alcohol after the swallow.

drinkability is pretty decent, no doubt improved by the aging. alcohol is there, and it detracts a bit, but it is not insurmountable. quite a tasty brew, but may be a bit much for some.

update:
2011 version, fresh: flavor has a lot less licorice with a lot of woodiness and a significant hoppiness. slightly lower in abv (10.8 vs 10.5) but its still a bit boozy. I like this a bit more. I'm not sure if I like it better fresh than aged or if this vintage is just more to my tastes, but I've got another few of various years in the cellar that I'm looking forward to.

Photo of CityBoy1986
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 22 oz. bomber. 2010 Release.

The pour is nearly solid black with a tall brown head. The head gently creeps down, leaving decent lacing.

The nose is mostly coffee, some chocolate, burnt malts, with a hint of alcohol. The taste brings out more of the chocolate and burnt malts. Aftertaste is a short, but satisfying, burn of alcohol, followed by a mixture of chocolate and coffee that won't go away.

Mouthfeel is medium-full-bodied with a nice amount of carbonation. Drinkability is decent, but the alcohol content hinders this a bit for me. I'll be done after the bomber.

Nice example of the style, and doesn't have an outrageous price tag (at least in La.).

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

12oz 2008

Appearance - a pitch black color with a finger high brown head that leaves fast

Smell - i get a smell of roasted malts. a very coffee smelling beer.

Taste - a dry coffee taste. i also get a choclate undertone. With a nice coffee aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied with medium carbonation

drinkability- not as filling as a i thought the beer would be. Very high drinkability.

Photo of Arenbeer
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Snifter 2010 Vintage

A- Pours a solid black with a nice brown 2 finger head that doesn't stick around but leaves nice lacing.

S- Roasted dark malts with a strong coffee nose and a slight chocolate background.

T- Strong dry bitter coffee with a great solid roasted flavor that makes this brew for me. Also some bittersweet chocolate and a nice alcohol fullness and sting that could use some maturing.

M- Full bodied with moderate carbonation and a nice bitter dry finish.

Photo of thagr81us
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 2010 Vintage. Served from bottle into a Stone nonic. Pours black with a two finger tan head that lingers for quite awhile and subsides to a minimal amount after awhile. Maintains excellent lacing throughout. The aroma was comprised of malt, coffee, chocolate, and bread. The flavor was of cream, malt, espresso, with a coffee followthrough. Upon warming up to just below room temperature there was a very strong aftertaste of bourbon associated with it. It was heavy, almost sticky, on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a very nice brew from Stone. This was the first time I've gotten a chance to drink this one so it was a whole new experience for my palate. That being said, it was quite good but not what I was expecting to be #30 in the World at the time... One of my only gripes was that the followthrough of coffee was a bit harsh for my palate as I do not drink coffee, but it still didn't deter me from finishing off a bomber.

Photo of bogus564
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This baby from Stone is definitely a stout. It's extremely dark brown in color, with a big caramel-colored head that bubbles nicely for three minutes before forming a lace that stays on the glass all the way through.

The smell is very nice; there's coffee, chocolate, cream and burnt malt, with some citrus (lemon, I believe) way back there. Makes you want to dive right in.

The first and subsequent sips confirm all that you smelled; you've got your coffee, you've got your chocolate, your cream, your burnt malt and your lemon. Oh, and to add to it, you've got a hoppy, piny finish, just what you'd expect from a beer from Stone Brewery.

The mouthfeel is okay - it's medium-bodied, with good carbonation and a piny aftertaste. I really wanted a malty aftertaste, but it is what it is.

This is a good drinking beer, which I believe would go very well with a well-prepared steak. Steak and stout - I wonder if there's a better combination.

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Anno 2010

Appearance -- Pours a very deep brown, black in the glass with mahogany highlights when the glass is swirled. One finger of khaki head that slowly dissipates.

Smell -- Very aromatic. Big roast malt notes, chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, dark fruit, earthy hops.

Taste -- Follows the nose: Char, dark chocolate, raisin, prune, and coffee. Moderate earthy hop character in the finish brings about a minty flavor. Alcohol presence certainly, but adds character rather than detracts.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to full in body with mild prickly carbonation. Mild alcohol bite, faint warming in the throat.

Drinkability -- Quite good. Great roast flavors, sweetness in moderation, and a little bit of hops in the back make for this to be a very satisfying brew. My expectations were exceeded.

Photo of RunForYourBeer
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

First review:
Served from a bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Spring 2010 release

A: Black. No light comes through with a small tan head.

S: Some dark chocolate along with dark fruits.

T: More dark chocolate with dark fruits (raisin?). Finishes with some light bitterness and coffee flavors with some alcohol warming.

M: Thick with medium carbonation. Very good.

Very good beer overall. Only problem is drinkability due to alcohol content (10.5%) and bottle size available in my area.

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

Poured into a snifter from 22 oz. bomber.

A-Jet black with coffee color head that leaves a a thick lacing covering all sides of the glass

S-Roasty chocolate mild coffee

T-sweet chocolate mild black licorice coffee mild warm alcohol finish that lingers slightly in a good way

M-mild carbonation coats the mouth well

D-Given the style and ABV I would be done after a bomber

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

Spring 2010 release, poured into my Stone IRS tulip.

A - A true thing of beauty, especially in it's right glass. Pours an inky black with a 1 1/2 finger mocha head that dissipates into a thin ring.

S - Dark roasted malts, rum-raisins, chocolate and vanilla.

T - Tons of dark chocolate malts, bitter expresso coffee and vanilla with a slight hoppiness. Deep, rich, and delicious!

M - Nice full and creamy mouthfeel with a bit of alcohol warming towards the finish. Chewy.

D - This is an amazing RIS, and, given the availability and price, one of the best bargains around. If you like Russian Imperial Stouts and haven't tried this yet, get to a store now! Cannot wait to see how these age.

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

Tall bottle picked up at Knightly Spirits in Orlando. Love the Soviet gargoyle on the label... Limited Spring 2010 release.

Poured into a Duvel goblet. An inky black hue, hard to detect any other colour but black here. Leaves an inch-high mocha head, leaving some flecks of lacing. Survives well as a ring, with a few islands drifting about.

Nose is roasted dark coffee, cream, dark chocolate (75% cocoa at least!), dark fruit. Rich and inviting.

A terrific stout, wonderful to sip. Brought to a proper temperature, this RIS achieves a wonderful balance of chocolate, toasted malt and caramel, while finishing with a slightly bitter taste accentuated with warming alcohol. First rate.

Almost syrupy, the mouthfeel of this viscous brew is greatly aided by its light, but everpresent carbonation. Oily and velvety, with a slight warming alcohol burn that affects the back of the tongue.

A terrific RIS, one of the best I've had the pleasure to enjoy. Surprisingly drinkable - the ABV is high, yes, but such a meaty stout is worthy of slow savouring.

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

A - Very very dark. Head is very small though
S - Smells like a chocolate cake.
T - A dive into this dark retched beast I I'm surround by chocolate malts. A little bit of spiciness hits the tongue. The alcohol monster is present and it just is hiding in a deep dark cave of chocolate. It does not leave a bad taste in your mouth. It taste like creamy chocolate milk but with much more kick.
M - Thick
D- I could have alot

Photo of thetomG
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage...

Typical deep brown pour. Decent amount of dark brown head leaving minimal lacing behind. Aroma is primarily roasted malts and some slight chocolate. Flavor is very similar but the alcohol comes through a bit to liven things up. Seems just about perfectly carbonated with just the right balance between silky smooth and syrupy mouthfeel. Considering the relatively low cost and wide availability I don't know if there's a better RIS out there... Will definitely be drinking more of this.... Yum!

Photo of Jips
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2010 poured into an 8 oz plastic tumbler, cuz that's better than a hotel plastic cup (though GREAT straight out of the bottle too).

Poured inky black with a thin bubbly light tan head. Smells like raisins, roasted malt, a little molasses and alchy. Mouthfeel is smooth, barely a hair watery and just a little carbonation. Initial taste is heavy on the roasted malt, some coffee and chocolate, a little molasses. Aftertaste is molasses and a pleasant slight alcohol burn.

Great beer, an exemplar of the style. Buzzed after half a bomber!

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

22oz Spring 2008 vintage poured into 300ml Krusovice goblet.

Appearance: Jet-black with a medium brown head that dissipates slowly and leaves a somewhat thick ring of lace behind.

Smell: Very, very rich chocolately smell with some notes of caramel and a sligtly harsh touch from the alcohol. This smells very rich and inviting.

Taste: Very nice roasty beginning, finishing with sweet chocolate and bitter coffee notes. Also has a hint of sour alcohol. The hops from this one have probably aged away, but there is a slight hint of grassiness after the finish. Every time I burp or cough hard, it tastes like chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Thick, chewy, and creamy body with balanced carbonation and a dry finish with a bit of a warmth from the alcohol at the end. Very heavy.

Drinkability: This beer is outstanding. Easily the best stout I've had- I haven't tried this one without age, but I can imagine that the vintage brings out the rich chocolately flavor of this which is extremely enjoyable. This beer needs to be sipped and savored and probably cellared before that.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,295 ratings.