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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,408 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,408
Reviews: 2,620
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 646
Gots: 1,718 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,408 | Reviews: 2,620 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Misfit025
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is my first review so take it easy on me...

I bought myself some of this imperial stout over the weekend and this one in particular was from spring 2008 so it has been aged for 2+ years. Appearance-wise this beer is very dark black and coffee-like. There is no lacing and almost no head.

It had a very apparent licorice smell to it with hints of coffee and dried fruit.

It tasted of toasty, almost burnt malt with a bitter finish on the back of the tongue. Bold coffee flavor with dark chocolate undertones.

There did not seem to be much carbonation left and this caused it to have a thin mouthfeel but this could have been caused by the aging process.

Because it wasn't as thick as a normal stout it was a little more drinkable and less filling. Also because of the aging there was less of an alcohol burn (this batch was 10.8% ABV).

Overall, a very tasty beer. Being 2+years old, lost viscosity and some bitterness. Also lost some carbonation and heat yet gained a more upfront roasted malt flavor.

Photo of sellmeagod
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Oh indeed, this is a mighty brew that will have orcs cascading across your palate and conjure up images of mages brewing crazy potions, only a few sips in.

Opaque. Mysterious. Insane pour.

Smells like a bunch of sweets, a bunch of bitters, a bunch of fruits.

Each sip is bizarrely different from the last, depending on what you want to notice. Each is delicious. Easily the most tastes in a single sip of any brew I have ever had.

It's thick and it's 10.5, so you aren't drinking these all night. But boy does each wild taste make you want to. Rampage through the cathedrals with one of these to feel like a real gargoyle.

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

A - Jet black with minimal head or lacing. Held to the light none shines through.

S - Wet and leafy with a slight coffee smell.

T - Licorice and coffee, bitter chocolate. Nice flavor but nothing overpowering.

M - It has a thick viscous feel which can be seen in the pour. Not a strong bite and dry.

D - Good drink before bed time to let the air out and sweet dreams.

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

Excellent example of a heavy stout. Sweet malt, coffee and chocolate predominate with high alcohol level kept in check by a nice measure of hops. If I had to criticize I would say that the sweetness could be dialed back a bit, which would allow some of the more bitter flavors to come through. I've rated drinkability at a lower level because it's not one you are likely to pound back at a session, but as a single (very hard to find 12 oz but nice to split) its a sweetheart.

Photo of grittybrews
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured black into a Duvel tulip with a couple fingers of loose mocha head. Fairly quick to recede with some light lacing. Vaguely sweet aroma of chocolate, smoke, and roasty coffee mixed with slight alcohol/molasses presence.

Mouthfeel much lighter than expected with ample carbonation and a creamy smoothness. Intense waves of flavor throughout with vanilla bean, licorice, milk chocolate, and alcohol warmth mixed with espresso and slightly bitter dark chocolate on the finish. Wonderful balance of flavors with new notes constantly emerging. Truly exceptional stout.

Photo of ZX6Chris
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I gotta think my buddy Lloyd for sharing his 2003 IRS with me.

A-Pitch black, a little brown around the edges. A small ring of bubbles. Looks like oil. Thick lacing in the glass.

S-Faint roasted barley, black patent malt. Sweet with no hop aroma. Bitter chocolate. Very pleasant.

T-Taste mildly sweet. Roasty on the finish. No alcohol or hops. Warms in the belly. Lots of roasty/bitter coffee in the finish.

M-Medium body. Light carbonation.

D-Easy drinker. Surprisingly light for an IRS.

Photo of SuperSpy
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Black, thick, no light coming through at all. Big thick tan head that is slow to form, quick to die, but leaves behind plenty of lace.

S - Medium roast coffee, roasted malt, molasses, dark fruits. Smells absolutely delicious.

T/M - Thick, velvety and luscious. The flavor is sweet with roasted malt, molasses, prunes and dark chocolate.

D - A great Russian Imperial. I think I will be stocking up on this one.

Photo of Yoonisaykul
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle says 10.8%

Nice looking bottle.

A- Dark tan head went from 2cm to a ring and bubbly patch in a minute. Darkness. Looks like an eight-ball in my tulip but upon closer inspection you can notice tiny brown yeast particles floating everywhere. Lacing pattern reminds me of dulse seaweed.

S-Vanilla essence, alcohol and all. Marzipan. Chocolate ice cream with the cone. Just enough cocoa bitterness to keep it all balanced and interesting.

T- Intense but not so complex. Like an alcoholic chocolate ice cream. Not getting much dark fruit which is nice for a change. Really delicious.

M-Silky, denser than average, body (add some milk to the chocolate ice cream). Low carbonation. Sticky. Appart fro how silky and relatively thick it is, nothing really special about the feel but it is enjoyable.

D- So tasty, making it too easy to drink. Very fun to drink. It also feels light for some reason making it easier to drink even though it really isn't. Had this after eating and could already feel the alcohol after half a bottle so watch out.

Just as good (even better?) as I was hoping it to be. Top notch brew and probably a great example of the style. Certainly recommend to all RIS drinkers. Wish I could buy a bunch.
This must be nuts on tap.
I think this made me love RIS' more.

Photo of haddon
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

obviously, this beer pours very dark and has a mocha brown head that starts frothy but fades to lacing fairly quickly.

starts with malty notes on the nose (as expected) but also contains a surprising fruity aroma as well. citrusy. also a little boosy aroma smell mixed in as well.

very malty taste with coffee and chocolate dominating. as it approaches room temp, the aftertaste warms and gets bitter with a nice alcohol feel that lingers in the throat. enjoyable.

thick and creamy feel that with appropriate carbonation for the style.

very nice RIS that I would never pass up if available. although not my favorite of the style, would like to always have a bomber of this around through the winter months.

Photo of jal30
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Possibly the darkest beer I've ever had. Completely opaque black pour with an almost mahogany head. Smell is incredible, like straight cocoa beans and coffee beans. Tastes like that too, so rich and sweetly delicious! Really creamy full mouthfeel, chewy almost, and yet strangely drinkable for a 10.5 chocolate bomb of a beer. Really a phenomenal brew and a wonderful after dinner treat. Great stuff

Photo of Wafflstat
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My first beer review, but certainly not my first beer.

Poured from a bomber into a snifter, where I let it sit for a few minutes.

A- Solid Black. Light will not shine through this beer. One finger width head initially, which dissipated into a film on top.

S- coffee, toffee, chocolate, licorice, alcohol

T-Mostly coffee, chocolate, and alcohol at the end.

M- Not as thick as it appears. Very smooth feel. Right amount of carbonation.

D- A good no-nonsense RIS. I think this is a model representation of the style. Would certainly drink it again, although a bomber is certianly enough for a night.

Photo of nephlim
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle marked Limited Spring 2010, into a Sparhawk pint glass (also a good beer)

A: Pitch, black goodness. It looks thick, pours more like an oil than a beer.

S: Lots of toffee, sweet, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol.

T: Coffee, toffee, a slightly earthy finish, and some alcohol on the aftertaste.

M: Given the big flavour, it's rather light on the pallet. It reminds me of BBC's Coffee House Porter; velvety and rich, but not as thick as you'd think.

D: Very easy to drink. One could drink many of these with no problem at all. The 9 plus per cent ABV is well hidden.

Mind you, I'm drinking this in 80* weather, with humidity, and it's still easy to drink. I reckon this would be a good year round beer.

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

A pours jet black with a slight Dark brownish head.

S-Bitter Roasted coffee an=long with chocolate with a slight grassiness along with the slightest of ash.

T-Full of same roastiness from the smell chocolatey with a dark fruitiness.

M-Heavy bodied definitely a sipper though one of the best stouts i have tried.

D-One of the Best stouts i have tried although i am not a Stout lover on the off occasion i would grab one this one is among the frontrunners.


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
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
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
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
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
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
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
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
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
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

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
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
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.).

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,408 ratings.