1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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

6,926 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,926
Reviews: 2,583
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 521
Gots: 1,510 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,926 | Reviews: 2,583 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Kegatron
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ the Copper Mine Pub (North Arlington, NJ) on 7/24/09. 8 oz pour served in a Chimay glass.

Pours black as night in the glass, with a 1/4 finger of creamy burnt mocha colored head. Just awesome retention here, staying rich & frothy the whole way through the glass, leaving a big cascade of creamy spotty lace and brown goo back. The aroma is just awesome smelling, being quite heavy in the nose, with a perfect evenness between the darkker notes of roast & coffee and then the sweeter tones of chocolate, toffee, and dark fruits. As mentioned before, the alcohol presence gives this some heavy presence in the nostrils but is never stinging, instead imparting a cozy smelling warmth that makes this a pleasure to sniff.

The taste starts with a big crunchy flush of blackened and burnt roast and zippy espresso character. This is then balanced (if you can call it that) by an equally massive sweeter base of dark chocolate, toffee, black currants, and liquorice. Man, the finish on this is absolutely bitter and roasty that just STICKS in the mouth. Very satisfying. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a big mouthfilling prickly carbonation that really brings out the sharp roasty character in this. This then slickens out towards the back, with a chewy feel that carries the bulk of the huge sweetness in this with it. That hefty ABV is present, but just like the best RIS do, it never detracts from the flavors but instead gives them extra gravitas in the profile, helping make everything pop.

A classic from Stone no doubt. Full flavored, full bodied, full everything, RIS that leaves nothing on the table. I love the fact that you don't have to give up an arm or a leg to procur if either. Great stuff!

Kegatron, Jul 28, 2009
Photo of JmOdrkrk
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, i let warm a bit after pulling from fridge.

A - pours like oil. black and thick with a one finger head that will fade to leave a sticky ring.

S - deep rich smell of malt, chocolate and an earthy wood smell.

T - smooth, but you can still definitely taste the 10.5% in this genuine stout. all the things in the smell become very apparent as you begin to draw in what feels like a very oily mixture of coffee and malt.

M - smooth, with little aftertaste or bite.

D - A good after meal beer, but definitely heavy.
I don't see myself having more than one of these.

JmOdrkrk, Jul 28, 2009
Photo of grayburn
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What an excellent example of the style. I was worried that something from stone would somehow be hop dominated even at the RIS level. Wrong. The balance of this beer is quite impressive, the mouthfeel is definitely the key player here, incredible smoothness brings flashing notes of chocolate and licorice. Slight bitterness really integrates with the carbonation to prevent any kind of cloying sweetness, which definitely ups the drinkability. Overall a very good beer, surprisingly true to style, not overwhelming but blended. Excellent.

grayburn, Jul 27, 2009
Photo of abar22
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a tulip.

The Stone IRS came out black and thick with a 1 inch mocha head. It settled quickly into a thin cap with a nice thick ring around the glass. Lacing was there but minimal.
The nose is a bit more subdued than I'd like. With a full head you get a whiff of chocolate. When the head subsides the roasted coffee, a RIS staple, comes through. Neither are particularly strong though both are pleasant. Nice but not as complex or fragrant as I'd like.
A touch of carbonation hits first opening up to a nice smooth feeling body. The middle boasts of sweet chocolate and a hint of something dark and tart(raisins?). The ending brings the roasted malts and coffee that finishes nice and dry.
The mouthfeel is consistent with great Imperial Stouts; smooth, creamy, with mild carbonation. The after taste leaves hints of roasted malts and alcohol.
12 oz goes down like a dream and going for two would be filling but not difficult. At $6 a bomber Rasputin and Storm King are better deals.

abar22, Jul 26, 2009
Photo of 1santore
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All I can say about this beer is WOW!! It pours thick and black. The smell is just a wonderful blend of coffee and chocolate. The smell alone is enough to win me over. I had a 22 oz. bomber. The first glass I drank chilled, but recomend letting it warm as I did with my second glass. It really brings all of the flavors out. As far as I'm concerned the best Russian Stout out there.

1santore, Jul 25, 2009
Photo of kegger22
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one's almost black, oily with a respectable beige head that didn't last too long. A nice aroma of coffee and chocolate. The taste followed suit with coffee foremost, chocolate second and a bit of anise. Rich, heavy, oily is the feel; as a stout should be. If you put away a bomber, that should be plenty. The tastes were different cold vs. warmed at room temperature, both enjoyed.

kegger22, Jul 25, 2009
Photo of abriggs1
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

This is obviously an amazing beer. It manages to taste like dark and milk chocolate at the same time. Strong tastes of molasses and coffee. Undertones of Liquorice and cassis. Pours like crude oil and has a bold taste that is not for those lacking in grit and backbone. I'm still trying to decide if I think this or Old Rasputin is better. One of these days I will try them side by side and settle this once and for all.

2009 Spring release that I'm drinking has an alc/vol of 10.5%, not 10.8%

abriggs1, Jul 24, 2009
Photo of drpimento
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bomber - uh, somewhen. It's dated 2005. and doesn't say "Russian" on it. Poured a small finely bubbled frothy foamy head and some lace. Color is absolutely opaque brown. Aroma is quintessential imperial stout but with a subtle enticing ripe red cherry quality. Flavor's about the same. In spite of the power of the beer, it's oddly drinkable. Righteous beer!

drpimento, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz, Spring 2008 Released vintage, into a snifter. Pours pitch black and is topped with a silky smooth, dark tan head. A good bit of lacing and the head retention is pretty darn outstanding.

Aroma is chocolatey, smoky, slightly fruity, a touch sweet. A slight alcoholic aroma is a bit solventy which is a slight turnoff.

This could be the best RIS I have had. The smoke seems to be more prevalent in the flavor. Smoky, vanilla, chocolate, roasted grains, citrus hops, dark roasted espresso. Simply wonderful.

Nearly perfect mouthfeel. Really thick stouts tend to be sweet and not one I prefer. This one has a big, medium body with perfect carbonation. Silky and creamy and oily.

So easily drinkable. I am not afraid to say this is top two or three Impys I have ever had. I have two more bottles from 2006 and cant wait to try them.

SaCkErZ9, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of association330
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 22 oz. bomber, with all the usual Stone characteristics. Spring 2009 release.

A - Pours thick, opaque black with a finger of bubbly, tan head. Eventually drops to a pretty solid cap with a thick ring of foam. Some lace sticks around, which is surprising for a 10.5% brew.

S - Bittersweet burnt malt aromas. Good coffee, dark fruits, and a slight alcohol note.

T - Burnt malt, sweet roastiness, bitter French Roast coffee, dark chocolate, prunes, molasses. Bitter hop/roast coffee finish.

M - Body is almost perfectly heavy, rich and chewy. Carbonation is moderate and creamy. Alcohol prickle speaks of a fairly young brew, which might mellow out with some cellaring.

D - Pretty good RIS at work here. I'd love to cellar a bottle for a year or so and see what the results are.

association330, Jul 22, 2009
Photo of david18
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an exceptional beer and probably the best in the stone colledtion. It is one of a handful of beers that explains why the imperial russian and american stouts are always at the top of the llst in beer popularity. Great bitterness, malt and alcohol. A marriage made in heavan.

david18, Jul 22, 2009
Photo of DerBayer
2.35/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

The aftertaste of creamsoda

A - Nice tar colour but the off-brounish brackish head ruins it for me

S - Complex smell of aniseed, caramel and spice

T - At firt quite good you taste the spice then some faint chocolate then ... American cream soda - OUCH

M - Too flat flat flat I m afraid

D - At first this is slightly moorish then quickly creamsoda overkill and you dont know if you re in 21st century London or a 1950s american movie

DerBayer, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of bfields4
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice full mocha unrelenting head. Deep black body not really catching any off hues at all just jet black.

Really picking up the dark fruits at first. Very big currant smells. More of the roasted malt coffee smells come along the more I drink. A little smokiness to boot.

Wow the flavor of this guy is just phenomenal. Roasted malts are big up front with nice dark chocolate and coffee flavors. There is a touch of hop bitterness that really complements the other flavors so nicely. The black currants make a welcoming addition as I work my way through this beer.

Just such a smooth brew so velvety just glides down. Very light carbonation. Really love this beer can hardly taste the 10.5%. Have one aging in my basement that I hope I can keep my hands off of.

bfields4, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of william5586
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Spring 2009 release

A- This beer appeared very viscous and seemed to pour slowly. It was pitch black with a decent sized tan head. The head eventually receded to a ring that left some lacing.

S- Roasted malt, dark chocolate. Left me wanting a little here.

T- Lots of roasted malts. A tiny bit of sweetness and dark chocolate. Slightly bitter finish topped off hint of alcohol.

M- Thick, coating, creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Very enjoyable.

D- I could sip on this beer all night. Its just plain good.

william5586, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of womencantsail
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black as night and thick as motor oil. About one finger of tan foam, and not any lacing to speak of.

S: Chocolate, coffee, licorice, a slight smokiness, and roasted malt. There is still some alcohol present, but that's no big surprise.

T: So much going on here. Chocolate, dark fruits (currants and plums), roasted malt, licorice, and a bit of alcohol.

M: Huge body, very thick and syrupy.

D: Despite being approximately a year old, it's still somewhat boozy. Very tasty though and it will only get better.

womencantsail, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of bluebrew
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone Brewing Co.
Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2009
10.8% Abv.
22 oz. Pored into tall, medium width 20 oz mug.

First time for me.

Appearance; Began the poring gently but increased vigor as the glass filled. Midnight Brown chocolate color, with a 1.5 finger mocha tan head, some of lacing. Head dissipates within 15 minutes to a light halo with some fog in the middle.

Smell; Initial smell is so incredible i felt like going over to bevmo and buying two more bottles so i could do it again. The smell stays good, and taunts you to take another sip.

Taste; its so hard to pin, the other features of this beer are much more tangible. (at least for me), but the flavors are rich, dark, and coffee chocolaty, a hint of alcohol on the end.

Mouthfeel; A little less viscous than milk, some bubbles when you swallow, yet when drinking and sloshing around the mouth you appreciate how well it coats your mouth but doesn't over whelm.

Drinkability; the alcohol is hard to taste, but easy to notice, me being a lighter guy, a 22 of this on a full stomach got me... lets say comfortable. Otherwise, in the words of another: "I could quaff this non-stop"

Second time enjoying this brew, i will be buying more to cellar asap.

bluebrew, Jul 16, 2009
Photo of yesyouam
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone Imperial Russian Stout is a pitch black ale with a huge, fluffy brown head that has some oily bubbles on it. The head retention is incredible. It leaves huge, thick sheets with sip lines on the glass. The aroma is roasty and slightly sweet. There are notes of coffee, caramel, chocolate, alcohol and grass. It is thick, full bodied, heavy and smooth. The finish is dry and acidic. The flavor is roasty and has notes of salmiakki and coffee. It's not very sweet. The finish is medicinal and alcoholic. There is a lingering aftertaste of salmiakki. It's a pretty darn good beer.

yesyouam, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of Grabbin2nd
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From Notes: 3/29/09
Stone Brewing Co.
Imperial Russian Stout 2008
10.8% Abv.
12oz. Bottle into Allagash Snifter

Appearance= Vigorous pour into Allagash snifter yields a FAT 4 finger, dark brown, caramel colored head. Black body w/no carbonation. Head retention is less than expected.

Smell= Good smell. I like the smell of the initial nose. The overall nose is aight, but man, the initial nose is pure bliss.

Taste= Very good flavors. Good on the front, good on the middle, good on the backend.

Mouthfeel= Mouthfeel is thickish. Good example of the Imperial style. Lingers well. Finishes thin enough to not be overwhelming.

Drinkability= Abv. is not detected. Excellent flavor. I could quaff this non-stop.

Update* 2009 IRS
From Notes: 6/30/09
Stone Brewing Co.
Imperial Russian Stout 2009
Imperial Russian Stout
10.5% Abv.
22oz. Bottle into oversize redwine glass

I've heard this is a hot mess. Let's examine further shall we?

Appearance= Vigorous pour yields a thin 3 finger brown head. Excellent head retention. Cake just sits on top of beer. Opaque black beer. Visible carbonation. Awesome looking beer. Looks delicious.

Smell= Smells like a RIS! Coffee, choco, malt goodness.

Taste= Hot. Not bad, just noticeable. Coffee, choco, malt, alcohol. Flavor sticks around for days! I will say this, the beer really smoothes out as it warms...

Mouthfeel= Good lingering taste. Overall it's not thick at all. I believe this will get thicker and chewier as it's life progresses.

Drinkability= This beer is going to be another fabulous beer in a few years. Now is not the time to drink. However, this is still a good beer. Fits the style to a "T."

Grabbin2nd, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of DeathbySexyBT
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a rather large pilsner-style glass.
A: Imagine the shade of brown that appears immediately before black. One inch billowing head that slowly dissipated throughout the consumption and leaves a nice lacing.
S: Coffee, fruit, molasses, almost a cedar wood smell as well.
M: This brew has a very oil/viscous feel to it. It has a heavy aftertaste that is rather pleasant.
T: Nice strong coffee flavor up front accompanied by a smoky molasses. Dark chocolate and roasted grain on the backside of the flavor. Finishes sweetly with a definite presence of hops in the aftertaste.
D: As per style, a little heavy to drink throughout the night. However, if I were to go Stout for a night this would be it.

DeathbySexyBT, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of hmmmmmm
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is my first review, yay.
Spring 2009 release into a snifter.
A- Opaque, black with sticky dark tan/brownish head that fades after a few minutes
S- Chocolate, coffee, toffee, caramel
T- Carmel, roasted goodness followed by surprisingly nice hop bitterness that quickly dissipates to alcohol that slowly slides down the tongue
M- Adequate carbonation counteracts stickiness, light for the style, smooths out over time
D- it took two hours to finish the bomber, a long time, but a joyous two hours.
Good stuff, can't wait to enjoy one in the winter months.

hmmmmmm, Jul 14, 2009
Photo of n00tz
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - A body with darkness that can only be achieved in a basement with the lights off, topped by a bronze inch high head as frothy as a cappuccino.

S - Sweet syrup, deep cocoa, and a slight coffee bitterness.

T - brings a tear to my eye, dammit this is good! some roasted walnut-like flavors drenched in a medium roast coffee and sweet chocolate maltiness.

M - burps some dark chocolate bitterness and a hint of hops. realllly rich heavy body, wonderful.

D - I feel like I could drink one every day for the rest of my life, but I wouldn't want to do that simply because it is so good and doing so would ruin the effec. This is a beer I would seek to share at prominent celebrations or large family holiday gatherings - though I would probably be given strange looks simply because not many people could understand it.

I felt privileged to have found it and had been looking everywhere for it, I bought all 4 they had on the shelves and I do not regret it at all.. I wish I had a place to cellar my last one, but I will be saving it as long as I can stand to see it sit in my fridge. I will probably go back to the store and see if they can order a case of these so I can serve at my wedding next year.

n00tz, Jul 14, 2009
Photo of theghost3
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a 2-finger cafe au lait head. Medium lacing.

The smell is strong of molasses, roasted malts, dark fruit (mainly cherries), spices and coffee with alcohol esters. Taste is rather bitter from the strong dark coffee but there's a sweetness that comes through that consists of caramel malts and molasses. Mouthfeel is creamy, thick, almost oily.

This is a drinkable beer, but that ABV will surprise you. Excellent example of an RIS.

theghost3, Jul 13, 2009
Photo of TheTrevor
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a deep dark black with a two-finger dark tan head. The smell is a mix of strong black coffee, very dark fruits, and some melted dark chocolate. The taste starts off with a huge hit of sweet malt that gives way to some slightly bitter coffee and dark chocolate that gives way to a bit of real dark fruit and alcohol in the background. The mouthfeel is so thick and creamy it's unreal with some real pleasant warming from the alcohol. The drinkability doesn't suffer even though this is a big serious brew that means business. A fantastic version of the style.

TheTrevor, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of nicholasdes
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I did not think I would finish the whole bomber myself, but I quickly found myself reaching for the bottle to replenish my glass. Pours smooth and dark with a dark gray brown head that foretells of the rich goodness below it. The nose hints at sweet chocolate roasted malt. So smooth and creamy on the palate, balanced and flavorful. The roasted malt up front mixed with caramelized fruit and a threat of sweetness the never materializes. The finish is dry with lite hop bitterness. A beer so good you can't help but stare at the glass as you drink it, amazed by the goodness it contains. It is the balance that makes this great, a perfect combination of complex flavors that are never overbearing.

nicholasdes, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of jdklks
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- impenetrable black with an amber hue at the edges when backlit; thick with a milk-chocolate colored head. gorgeous.

S- mmm. so good. makes my mouth water. coffee, cocoa, roasted/burnt malts, alcohol.

T- great. wow. bitter coffee flavor up front accompanied by dark chocolate and roasted malts. super, super roasty. bitter, dark chocolate throughout, but especially in the finish. intense dark fruit sweetness all around. a hint of hops when fresh, but they fade nicely at about the 6 month mark, and are devoured by the overall roastiness.

M- nice and thick, oily on the palate. well carbonated. great mouthfeel.

the 2009 is no let-down. it might have just convinced me to pop my 2008 that's in the cellar soon.

jdklks, Jul 10, 2009
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,926 ratings.