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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

7,355 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,355
Reviews: 2,614
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 613
Gots: 1,676 | FT: 91
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: 7,355 | Reviews: 2,614 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of johnwarne
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A beer haiku for you:

"Massive Russian Stout:
Brace for the alcohol taste-
Great? Nyet: big black beer"

Rave reviews from most BA members: on the whole, a solid offering from a respected brewer. However, the alcohol taste I noted was much more pervasive than most beers exhibit--and that to me is not necessarily a good thing. One and done--Cheers!

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

A - Oil. I poured a small amount into a balloon glass and tried to tilt it to an ultrathin amount, and still, no amount of light will show through. This is black. A disappointingly thin, chocolate milk colored head formed, though this could have been the fault of my pour.
S - Bitter dark chocolate, cinnamon, vegetables (broccoli, in a good way?), slightly smoky, woody, earthy, everything a IMP Ruski should smell like.
T - Most of the nose comes through on the tongue. Delicious, ultra-dark chocolate bitterness. A decent, almost umami undertone of dirt/shrooms. A little smoke/smoked meat as well. There is a slightly sweet malt in the background, but very subdued. Very true to the style, pleasingly not sweet stout. Very bold.
M - Thick and creamy, yet a fair amount of bubbles, helping the bitterness play on the tongue. Not gummy at all.
D - This is very thick, very heavy, and very bold. The 10.5% certainly isn't hidden, but it isn't overpowering either. That being said, this is an after-dinner, or with food, slowww drinker.

Photo of jculler82
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber to Duvel tulip. Fridge aged about 6 - 8 months.

Poured straight down the center of the glass. Pours pure black, opaque, with a thin tan head. Head fades rather quickly.

Smells of some coffee, dark bitter chocolate, faint dark fruits, mild roast, and some fruity alcohol esters. Everything is nice, but the aroma, though complex, isn't strong out of the glass.

Flavor of this imperial stout is wonderful, a perfect blend of coffee, dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, and in the background some very slight dark fruits, with just the slightest hint of alcohol in the finish. An outstanding beer. The mouthfeel is just full enough to satisfy for the style, but not full enough that after half a glass you feel like you've eaten a full meal. Very drinkable.

Overall, the drinkability of this stout is dangerous. I could drink more than one bomber of this, which at 10.5% is scary. Great beer, seek it out if you've not had it.

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

This beer is so intense. Everything about it is bold and robust, it makes quite an impression.

Poured from a 22 into a snifter. Moderate carbonation and mild mocha colored head. Appearance is a deep black with some reddish hues. Not much lacing. Aroma is pretty subtle but it's very nice -- a roasted malty nut predominates along with some crisp hop and a slight estery plum. A hint of molasses and grape, it's got a light fruity thing going on in the background.

Body is wonderful, it's light and effervescent in the mouth. Extremely drinkable for such an alcoholic brew. Taste is rich, it really explodes in the mouth, and seems to have distinct waves of various flavors coming through. Initially it's a little bitter, just light and frothy and a tad phenolic. It then quickly rounds out into a rich combination of chocolates, caramels, and roasted nuts, with some apple and orange peel. Maybe a touch of black tea. It leaves the mouth with a buttery malt, more of the phenols, and a touch of that acidic orange peel. It's literally mouth watering, and my glass is getting empty quickly.

All in all a lovely brew and a very impressive imperial stout.

Photo of vkv822
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle into snifter.

Pours black, with a thick milk chocolate color head and great retention. The aroma is of rich chocolate malts with a slight roasted backing.
The flavor follows the aroma fairly well, with chocolate, slightly roasted malts up front. But it also has an odd, but pleasant very light note of dark fruit and almost a citric hop splash towards the finish after it warms a bit. It has a nice smooth, full body with decent carbonation, though it could be a bit more active.
This is a very enjoyable, and solid presentation of a RIS, and while I will no doubt look forward to next year's offering, I doubt that it will be anything I will truly seek out or keep in my cellar.

Photo of bradleyp
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again Market of Choice for keeping this beer in stock. This was the Spring 2009 release. I don't know if that is all that's out, or that's all they had left from last year. Once I opened the bottle, the aroma hits you in the face with coffee, chocolate, some black licorice. Pours a very dark cola color, but is very, very black once in the glass. This beer goes down rather easy, but at 10.5 abv, i could drink one and be done. There is a chocolate milk flavor I think. At least that's what it tasted like to me. Such a great beer, I can't wait to get another one.

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

Poured from 22oz bottle into Dogfish Head snifter.

A: One-finger head is a nice, caramel-y dark tan color. Beer looks like oil or tar being poured into the glass. Zero light gets through this one. Gorgeous!

S: A bit of alcohol comes through on the nose, but it is balanced well with the smell of bitter chocolate and espresso. There is a very nice caramel maltiness to the aroma as well. Fantastic.

T: WOW, this is phenomenal. Dark, slightly bitter chocolate comes through and melds perfectly with the mild coffee and roasted malt flavor.

M: Interesting, the mouthfeel does not match the appearance of the beer. Not as heavy as I expected and leaning much closer to medium-bodied. Carbonation suits it perfectly.

D: Very drinkable considering the ABV and nature of the beer.

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

poured into a dfh chalice, light does not pass through this beer. nice tan head. left some nice lacing.

nose is rich with dark chocolate, coffee, roasted barley, black strap molasses. it's great.

rich dark cocoa/chocolate flavor, slight bit of dark fruit. nice roasted coffee like flavor, brown sugar, a touch of phenolic smoke. that might be my imagination though. finishes with a slight bitterness to round out the sweet malt flavor.

big thick full bodied, not overly sweet though from unattenuated sugar. really a great beer. this and smuttynose RIS are my favorite in terms of this style.

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

Poured from 22 oz bottle into Chimay challice ;)


Different in many ways that a traditional Russian Stout but then again, Stone is much less than a traditional brewery so go figure. They jam their "stone hops" into this which although much less common (traditional) for a beer of this style, it works amazingly well.

Nice think black pour, amazing head for a stout of such high alcohol that hold a few fingers firm and eventually reduces into a thin layer with incredible lacing like oatmeal.

The nose is big, strong and DARK! Coffee up front with espresso and more coffee. Chocolate nibs and some nutty malt.

Taste is my favorite part of this beer however as the strong 10.5% abv is present as it envelopes your tongue in a silky coffee liner. I have heard some say it is less desirable than other RIS but I think the oddity of the hop addition and bite add to it's desirability. At least for me.

Big Heavy Body on this with enough alcohol to trick you into believing it's all carbonation. Not a party beer by any means, but a great beer with a nice piece of meat or even better the desert after that steak. I'll find this again and again and will probably rate this higher than it deserves.. but EFF IT, I LOVE IT!


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

Wow -- this is one of the best-assembled Imperial Russian Stouts I've ever had.

Stone throws their signature hops into this -- at first, the idea sounds dubious, but the result is more than pleasant.

Make sure you read the back label. It's hilarious and reflects the great sense of humor that the Stone guys have. But it also gives some insight as to how and why they did what they did to this stout.

This stout is all about coffee. It pours looking like a faintly-ruby red motor oil, with a nice tan cafe-au-lait head.

The aroma is again coffee, with a bit of dark chocolate, floral hops and citrusy fruit. It's a quite-pleasing smell.

Once it hits your tastebuds, the real fun begins. Not surprisingly, coffee jumps at you, but the chocolate and roasted malt follow on quickly. It is mildly-heavy, but less so than other Russian Stouts. You won't want to drink more than 2 or 3 of these.

It finishes well, the carbonation being replaced by a velvety smoothness, and leaving a great aftertaste.

Stone has hit another home run with their version of an Imperial Russian Stout. Chtob vse byli zdorovy!

Photo of wcintula
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a big ole' bomber labeled 2009 spring into a snifter.

A- Black chocolate body with very difficult to find red highlights when held to a lamp. Nice soft fluffy light chocolate brown head with good retention.

S- Predominant smells are of chocolate, roasted coffee and big malts, all around very sweet and inviting. The chocolate reminds me of a milk chocolate and I wouldn't be surprised if there's lactose in here.

T- I get all of those mentioned above and as the brew warmed up, the fruit started coming through. Black currant is mentioned on the bottle and I'm getting the taste of this bitter fruit, somewhat of a wine flavoring getting thrown into the mix.

M- Very thick, nice low carbonation. The keyword here is THICK.

D- Hell yeah baby. A very complexly flavored beer with layers upon layers. Nice stuff. enjoyed the bottle.

Photo of brewerburgundy
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2010 vintage, Sam Adams glass, 22oz bottle.

This is a hell of a dark Stout with the style's trademark fingernail of ruby as the only translucence. The head isn't abundant but seems to be persistent in a color close to coffee froth.

The aroma is chock full of coffee, so much so that it smells much like Founders Breakfast Stout. Dark chocolate is mingled and there are twinges of peppery hop, charcoal, and solvent.

There is a lot of coffee here too and more dark chocolate. Anise, dried cranberries, black pepper, orange oil, and alcohol fill up much of the remaining flavor. The hopping is high and great in its herbal pungency. As I said in my review of Double Bastard; I see a lot of potential here.

The carbonation just seems to emphasize the spicy hops, which I like. Slippery is the texture.

Again, like a 10.5% ABV beer can truly be drinkable? This is tasty but a decadent treat.

Photo of simpliciter
3.68/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - dark with a tan head, looks lovely in a brandy snifter
S - burnt chocolate with coffee, perfect w/ dessert
T - nothing but chocolate here
M - big, but light --- with wonderful bubbles
D - dessert only. very hot and sweet, only ~6oz per person please

Photo of Bendurgin
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is from some notes during last nights abomination of a basketball game. This pours black, and gives about an inch of beautiful tan head. Good lacing. I smell fresh espresso, bittersweet chocolate and a bit of toffee. Pretty much smells like a candy shop with roasted malts kicking around. The first thing that hits my tongue is espresso and then some cocoa. It has a richness that I would think to find in maple syrup. Espresso flavors linger in the middle of the tongue. A little bit of alcohol but at 10.5, you gotta expect a little bit. Feels silky and rich in the mouth. A bit syrupy, but overall pretty amazing. Easy to drink with the 10.5 abv. A little bit of warmth from the alcohol, but it's really just enough to you let you know it's there.

Photo of sfprint
1.75/5  rDev -59.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Bought from Ledgers in Berkeley, CA.

A: It looks quite frightening actually. It poured more like tar or molasses than a beer. Little carbonation. Looks like a super dark, dense, flat cola, tar pit.

S: Unique smell, having problems identifying it exactly. Very strange. Although the bottle cap states that its 100% natural,part of the smell it has i would associate with chemicals, the other part with rubber, or rubber cement.

T: Wow, quite different from other Russian Imperial Stouts I've had. The alcohol is very strong in the taste, and it unfortunately doesn't taste very natural to me. The aftertaste is unpleasant, very bitter, like a some kind of garden weed. In the body, I do taste coffee, but it's not good coffee. Somewhat sweet.

M: Initially it goes down very smooth, but then the aftertaste creates this bizarre, mouth puckering sensation like you've consumed something potentially poisonous.

O: Bleh. Maybe I've drank this beer too soon. On the back it recommends trying it every 5-6 months, and since it was "released" this spring, and it's only June, maybe it wasn't the right time to drink? I will go read the other reviews now and try to see what everyone else see's in it. It's definitely disconcerting that my experience is so far different from the other reviewers here.

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

Pours a dark black color with thin off-white head and some life. Has an aroma of chocolate, caramel, and grapefruit, with hints of coffee. Sweet up front. Then a malty, velvety finish with some nice bitters on the back end. The carbonation is muted a bit, keeps it from being too syrupy though. Very good.

Photo of srvisgod88
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: The beer is just beautiful. A nice dark tone that doesn't look sloppy. You can see that it is a nice thick, heavy beer.

Smell: A little lighter than a hoped but in no way unpleasant. I found myself really needing to swirl it and sniff it several times to really pick out distinct aromas. Probably because of the higher alcohol content. Even though I had trouble picking out anything distinct, what I did smell was very pleasing.

Taste: Very good taste. The initial attack was a little sloppy but the mid palate was a beautiful caramel that finished with a mocha-coffee that was noticeable without being overwhelming and off-putting. The heat in the finish is also there but is surprisingly well hidden until you reach the bottom of the glass.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy. Like any good Imperial Stout should be.

Drinkability: This is not something I can have more than two or three glasses of but if I were to drink this with food I would enjoy it very much. For what it is it has all the drinkability you could realistically ask for.

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

A: poured a dark brown like oil with a brown finger worth of head that left good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: nice roasted malt aromas with chocolate and slight coffee accents that definitely has booziness in the mixture. I also got some creamy notes followed by some oaky vanilla.

T: oak vanilla and slight greet the palate first with chocolate, and a mild hop bite as well. The beer also has some nice roasted malts that really adds balance to the overall flavor.

M: medium body with a good amount of carbonation that is sweet and silky with a mild bitter finish.

D: pretty damn good RIS from stone considering they stick to the hop bombs. This is definitely a treat after dinner. The beer drank good and could have another bomber.

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

A- Deep oil black, pours thick, little to no head. The foam that does form is chocolate brown, looks taste.

S- heavy malts, chocolate, bit of vanilla and bourbon.

T- Taste similar to the smell but backwards. A sweet bourbon, flooding of gritty chocolate and earth-tones, there is a struggle of hop bitterness that tries to build, but is quickly taken over malts. aftertaste is mostly roasted malts. I can't tell whether there is to little or way to much going on this beer.

M- Thick, chewiness when it hits the tongue and spreads over it quickly. long last flavor in the mouth. slight burning taste from the alcohol

D- Despite its high alcohol content, its not bad for a imperial stout.

Overall i was a bit disappointed with this imperial stout, I was expecting a bit more from stone. Its not a bad Imperial stout, i just wanted more flavor.

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

poured from bomber into st bernardus chalice.

A: pours very dark brown, almost black; medium head, some lacing.

S: strong roasted malt and chocolate come to mind right of the bat, but i do detect some coffee in there. molasses maybe?

T: taste follows the smell closely. complex and well balanced.

M: as with most imperial stouts it's definitely full bodied. average carbonation.

D: again, following the repuation of an imperial stout, this is a sipper. wouldn't stray beyond the one bomber.

overall, very good but IMHO not world class. maybe my expectations were too high going in; i was expecting to LOVE it... def not on the level of a kbs or even bourbon county, in my opinion. guess i'm a sucker for the bourbon. :)

Photo of TK5150
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After having the past couple vintages of this beer, I am finally deciding to rate it...2010 bottle.

A- Pours very dark brown/black with a large light brown head. Nice lacing. Looks like a pretty typical imperial stout.

S- Nice chocolate aromas with additional roasted malt, and a hint of coffee.

T- Roasted malts. A hint of coffee is there, just as in the nose. Caramel makes an appearance at the finish... a little licorice as well, hints of chocolate. Pretty tasty beer...much more balanced than the Southern Tier Mokah I had before this.

M- Fuller bodied, but more carbonation than I like to see in my Imperial Stouts. Still, this coats the mouth nicely.

D- The drinkability is good here, even with the high alcohol. One bomber would be my limit though.

Overall, it is hard to come by a widely distributed Imperial Stout that is worth picking up. A nice beer to look forward to each year. I liked 2008 a lot, hated 2009 ( I dislike a lot of 2009 versions of beers for some reason), but enjoy this years. I will probably pick up a couple of these for aging.

Photo of Echosolace
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - I was impressed when I held this up to my monitor's light and not a single ray was shining through. Whoa. Reminds me of the World Wide Stout.

S - It's hard to catch a smell of it. It doesn't seem to throw it's sent around so much. I'd probably call it chalky actually. Maybe a little bit like dry soil. Earthy tones is an understatement.

T - A lot of toasted something. Pretty thick, and the malts are to blame. But the malt taste isn't so strong. This thing is a kicker though, plenty of alcohol. Great if you're alone... *sniff* *sniff*

M - It seems to bubble up in itself. I'm not sure whether it's because of the sugar content, but it's not so effervescent, because it just foams up and stays foamy. It's pleasant actually. I like it about this beer.

D - It'll put a bit of hair on your chest. It's definitely for a person who can enjoy a ton of character in a beer. This isn't for the normal fragile American tongue. This is the real stuff. That said, it's a bit much for a daily brew. Personally, I enjoy something a bit lighter day to day, but it's a refreshing change I'm sure a stout fan would love.

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

Pours black with lots of light brown head. No lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, coffee, brown sugar and bitter chocolate. The roasted malts and coffee seem somewhat watered down. The aroma is a bit nutty as well.

Tastes upfront of slightly bitter roasted malts with a nutty, earthy quality. Finish is bitter coffee, unsweetened chocolate, light brown sugar. Lingering bitter and roasted coffee flavor.

Full bodied with low carbonation, but no chewiness. Slightly syrupy.

A solid example of the style, but nothing great and kind of boring.


Photo of snpub540
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours an almost black hue, with some brown around the edges and at the bottom. Light brown lacing leaves some delicate sheeting the whole way down.

Aroma smells very roasty and inviting. Also some raisin, carmelized sugar, and chocolate notes going on.

Taste is very complex and delicious. Bitter coffee and chocolate upfront. In the middle I am getting the dark fruit taste and a hint of licorice. Also a nice amount of hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is absolutely perfect. Silky texture that just dances on the palate. Drinkability is good for a big beer, but definately not a chugger. A great beer and one.I have enjoyed for a long time just never reviewed.

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

A - Exceptionally dark. Practically what you see pouring out of your car engine each year. Not a lot of head, but what is there is creamy. A bit of lacing as well.

S - Lots and lots of bitter dark chocolate and roasted malts. The roasted smell is quite dominant.

T - Much like the smell, there is strong hop bitterness to it which works so well with the bitter chocolate and roasted malt.

M - A full bodied beer that sticks with you. It's very creamy and goes very well with desserts.

D - I wouldn't recommend it on a hot day after work or from mowing the lawn. As a beer you relax and sip on, it's a fine wine in beer form.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,355 ratings.