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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

6,960 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,960
Reviews: 2,585
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 527
Gots: 1,524 | FT: 86
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: 6,960 | Reviews: 2,585 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mplum
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the best Imperial Stouts that I have ever had. That is saying a lot, given that I have tried dozens from many different lands. Color is opaque, smell is very alcoholic. It is very drinkable, but don't have too many- you may wake up in someone's bed that you don't even know (and trust me, she/he will not be to your standards)!

mplum, Jun 10, 2009
Photo of lackingfocus
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this as part of a Stone-sponsored tasting recently. We were given the pleasure of the fresh 2009 edition as well as some well-cellared vintage from 2006 and 2007. The overall review is as follows:

A: A gorgeous earthy black, completely opaque without any hint of cloudiness. Pours a very minimal head with light lacing.

S: Amazing! Smoked chocolate with a notable aroma of hops. I could sniff this stuff all day.

T: Just like it smells. The '09 was a hoppier edition, and I have no complaints about that. But all give that wonderful smoky chocolate flavor that defines this stout.

M: Shockingly light and pleasant! For such a rich, flavorful beer, there's none of that "stickiness" that can drag the tongue down. The '09 especially is lighter and crisper than the vintages.

D: A very drinkable stout. Let your own preference and tolerance determine what that means to you.

Overall, this is a great beer that cellars well. The smoky flavor in particular is more notable in the older vintages, whereas "fresher" editions are hoppier, crisper, and a bit lighter on the tongue.

lackingfocus, Jun 10, 2009
Photo of champ103
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque black. No light penetrates at all. A tan head of over two fingers forms with good retention. Not much lace to speak of though.
S: Roasted and sweet malt. Smoke, coffee, and a bit of chocolate. Black liquorish.
T: A huge roasted malt flavor. Coffee and slightly bitter chocolate. A bit of sweetness. A light hop flavor as the taste lingers. This is very decadent.
M/D: A full body that is low on the carbonation end. Thick and syrupy. For the high ABV this drinks really smooth. The alcohol is noticeable, but just enough to warm the belly. A great beer to sip and savor.

I have had this several times now. Each time is a treat. Highly recommended.

champ103, Jun 09, 2009
Photo of cnally
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours an intensely deep black with hints of mahogany around the bottom of the glass. A massive light brown head sits nicely and laces the glass.

A nutty, smoky aroma full of burnt walnuts and a heavy dose of burnt malt just saturate your senses.

Holy sweetness batman! This is a surprising sweet stout, with the sugary flavor starting right up. There are very smoky notes shortly behind the sweetness, and a deep malty flavor that just takes over the aftertaste. There are woodsy flavors like oak and nutmeg.

Slightly less imposing of a mouthfeel than I expect from a heavy stout. Instead of being thick and heavy, it is rather light and crisp.

Delicious beer that begs to be drank all the time. I have got to say, I have been craving an RIS for a while and this one has done the trick.

cnally, Jun 08, 2009
Photo of Lerxst
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Black as night. Beautiful. Thin copper head that dissipated quickly. Gorgeous lacing than hangs around to watch you drink.

S-Strong, but not as intense as I thought it would be. Chocolate, a bit of coffee, currants, dates, licorice. Nice nose.

T-An all out assault on the palate. Everything in the nose bombards the tongue with a delicious maltiness to boot. The alcohol isn't even noticeable.

M-Smooth, creamy and silky while punching you in your face at the same time. Incredible.

D-For such a big beer, this is highly drinkable. I want to drink another right now, but I must (tells self, you really must!) age a few of these.

2009 is another great year for the Stone IRS.

Lerxst, Jun 07, 2009
Photo of BeerZack
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty black all the way with nice big frothy head that settles to a near complete covering of khaki and cream colored foam.

Smells of vanilla, chocolate, marzipan, licorice whips and, surprisingly, only a hint of alcohol.

As soon as it hits my tongue I get the alcohol impression, the only olfactory impression I get while I have the beer in my mouth is booze. If I exhale as I take a sip I can get rich chocolate, maybe raisin, finishes a little more fruity, dark fruit, dates, raisins, some licorice and burnt caramel. Drying bitter hoppiness asserts at the tail end.

Full, but not syrupy texture; nice carbonation that keeps it creamy and smooth for the most part.

From what I see, this beer is probably too hot for most people to fully enjoy when its fresh, but I think it's just fine now... maybe a couple months age would do it good, but less than a year for sure.

BeerZack, Jun 06, 2009
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours very thick, a dark, dark opaque brown, with a rising head of incredibly fine brown bubbles, about the colour of chocolate shavings. Lacing is insane: tiny intricate patterns making a miniature Jackson Pollock print on the inside of my glass. Hell yes, what an amazing looking beer.

Wonderful roasted chocolate notes on the nose, big, rich and sweet, but with lightly smoky notes of wood-fired barbeque, burnt toffee, coffee bean and an odd light ozone character. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing. Very raw and fresh, full of body and attitude, but also just plain tasty.

Smooth and slick mouthfeel is what I notice initially, thick and shiny like melting high-fat icecream. The taste is deliciously bittersweet, full of rich high-cocoa chocolate, mocha coffee and toffee. Only later do the true carbonised characters come through, with a black, high-roast character just lingering on the edges of the palate. Just so damn smooth, rich, sweet and delicious.

Hell yes, what a delicious beer. A rip-roaring RIS that is also a delicious treat. Raw, but refined. Heavy, but smooth. A perfect balancing act, showcasing the art of the Imperial Stout. Bravo!

lacqueredmouse, Jun 06, 2009
Photo of webmanspidey
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber... poured into large Duvel tulip glass.

Dark black color.. thick and syrupy with large amount of purplish/pink head. Perfect in terms of appearance.

Smell is very complex.. sweet alcohol, cocoa, dates, raisins, and coffee.

Taste is powerfully sweet.. a mix of molasses, cocoa and dark fruit. Alcohol burn is felt only slightly for such a high powered beverage. Finishes very rich with a twinge of bitterness.

Very thick, creamy and silky mouthfeel. Drinkability is pretty damn good, but I don't think I'd really want more than a bomber of this at a sitting.

An excellent beer.. one of the better Imperial Stouts I've had the privilege of trying.

webmanspidey, Jun 06, 2009
Photo of Onslow
3.58/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

..and i don't like the contraction, apostrophe E-M,..as far as i am concerned his name is "Dig Them". You're not welcome here, Dig Them ... Pours a darkest of the dark brown-black , with a fantastic hearty dark coco head, big with great lacing .. . wow, so easy to drink, the abv is so well hidden , great roast level and a balance that is hard to beat!.. . for a pretty widely available RIS, this is fan-freakin-frakin-flippin-sex orgy in the living room-tastic!!!.. . Aromas include sharp molasses, dark coco chocolate, light alcohol, maduro tobacco leave, dark dark hard wood .. . has really distracted me from the Dig 'em fiasco! .. . . This could get you in trouble with its super smoothness, but it maybe lacks abit of complexity for me, there are definitely better Imperial Stouts, but at the somewhat decent price and availability, i can see why people talk... . I will also say, i bought a couple of bottles, and plan on re-rating after a year.. . .. You just got dunked on by Patrick Chewing!

Onslow, Jun 06, 2009
Photo of rayjay
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage poured in my Stone RIS goblet

Pours deep black, simmering like it has an air stone.

Aroma is dominated by fresh leather and rubbing alcohol. Makes a point, is unique, but there are certainly better.

After 2 years the hops are very smooth and mellow, and the malts are the stars. Everything has definitely smoothed out. Very strong leather and rubbing alcohol flavors, though. Some mild toffee.

Mouthfeel is nicely carbed and isn't too sticky. For a beer of this size it's pretty easy to tackle.

Although alcohol catches up with you it's got drinkability since it's a bold brew. East-coast like. Very good, but I have other favorites. Cheers!

rayjay, Jun 05, 2009
Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into my Sam Adams glass.

Spring 2008 Release.

A - Very attractive brown oily color. With a tan head that was about 1 in maybe less and left a mat with minimal lacing.

S - Sweet maltiness is present at first then a very prompt and striking smokey and roasted smell. No hops. The nose isn't as present some alcohol as well.

T - As it warms the roasted malt is ever so present. Hints of mild coffee almost with a hazelnut feel to it. A bit of sweetens with a subtle alcohol warmness afterward. As it warms when you roll it on the tongue the alcohol can be very well represented.

M - full bodied, oily and very fulfilling. Low carbonation.

D - Surprisingly high for the style but maybe not as much due to the ABV. Still very nice brew.

JoEBoBpr, Jun 05, 2009
Photo of beerandsandals
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stone was gracious enough to pour growler fills of their 2006 vintage of IRS and boy did you know I was going to be there. Stone's IRS is always a must get and living only minutes from the brewery ensure my cellar is going to be chock-full of this specialty. It pours like motor oil, thick and black, the nose isn't as apparent as the 2009 version but definite chocolate and coffee tones jump right out. Mouth is GREAT! Due to the age some carbonation was lost but I thought it made for a smoother stout feel and as it warmed more coffee and smooth silky chocolate came out. This beer is a great and will remain on the top of my favs list for quite some time.

beerandsandals, Jun 02, 2009
Photo of ThaBobfather
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black, almost like motor oil with a nice sampling milk chocolate color head.
Smells richly of roasted malt, some coffee, and some coco.
Taste has smooth coffee and roasted flavors at the beginning then transitions into a bitter chocolate taste.
Finish is crisp with a defining bitter chocolate after-taste.
Drinks incredibly well while playing in the realm of 10.8%, there is a little lingering bitter that makes the last couple of drinks a little tough, but still delicious.

ThaBobfather, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of fdrich29
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 FL. OZ bottle purchased at Marty's in Newton (took advantage of their Make Your Own Six Pack discount). "Limited Spring 2008 Release" and 10.8% ALC.

Black bod, tan head. Both beautiful. Smells of rich malts, roasted coffee, chocolate and of something burnt. Tastes is mostly of the coffee and malt.

Smooth mouthfeel but an alcohol aftertaste I probably would get if I waited another year or so.

I'm a big fan of the RIS, I've had some better, many not as good as this offering. Sometimes I neglect staples from the better known breweries, glad I grabbed this one (and glad for Marty's 6-pack discount!)

fdrich29, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of jettjon
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz bomber dated Spring 2009, into my cervoise. Dark, "pitch brown" color with no penetrating light or really anything around the edges. Towering brown-tan head collapses quickly to a thin sheet and ring of foam with small amounts of clingy lace. Nose of burnt sugar, oaky wood, hints of vanilla, and clearly present boozy alcohol. Creamy, milk-chocolate-sweet toasted malt flavor up front, with fruity undertones and refined-sugar sweetness. Moderate alcohol burn at the back with a dry, coffee-bitter finish. Mouth is smooth and creamy to the extrme. There's a tiny amount of carbonation keeping things sharp but other than that it's smooth and silky, just a bit thinner than skim milk and a bit smoother. Drinkability--ah, there's the rub, I suppose. This one's a consummate sipper, and I suspect reaching the bottom of this well-integrated 10.8% ABV beast is going to be a challenge.

Overall: An exemplary RIS, extremely complex and satisfying. Highly recommended.

jettjon, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of Patrick999
3.2/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice, the IRS finally showed up down here! I hear this is best aged, but hey, you gotta try it fresh first if possible. 2009 vintage.

A - Poured into a wine glass. Very dark, as you'd expect, and a thin espresso-like crema for a head.

S - Oddly rnough, I find the aromatics a bit muted. It smells like a weaker version of any number of imperial stouts. Mostly roasted coffee - I think I could be fooled into thinking this was a coffee stout if I didn't know better.

T, F - Ahh, I can already tell this needs more time in the bottle. It's harsh...really roasty and harsh. Extremely bitter coffee and bitter alcohol, with some of the currant and anise at the back end. Sticky and viscous, but without being terribly sweet at all. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I could stand for this to come off a bit sweeter. Whether from the roasted malts, hops, alcohol, or a combination of all 3, this is too bitter in its current state. Aside from the hint of currant at the immediate finish, it's just straight bitterness...and unpleasant bitterness if you ask me. With these huge American Impy Stouts, warming up usually takes a lot of the edge off for me, but it doesn't seem to be happening with this.

D - I don't know if I can finish the bomber. I have to get down to the last pour, though, so I can swirl in the dregs from bottle conditioning and see if/how that affects this.

Now, I do see the potential here. This is highly regarded on BA for good reason. I am going to buy another bottle - but it's not going to be opened for a good long while. Right now, though, drinkability is really limited.

Patrick999, May 31, 2009
Photo of WPRebelFan
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Black in color with no hope for light. Poured with a tiny head. Very little trace of lacing.

Smell: Notes of chocolate, coffee, malts, and dark fruits. They all seem to be roasted to perfection.

Taste: A chocolate malt occurs first followed closely with roasted coffee. The dark fruits and slightest bit of anise finish it off with a nice alcohol dash.

Mouthfeel: An excellent full bodied feel. It graces every area of the mouth.

Drinkability: Superb drinkability! Address with extreme caution!

WPRebelFan, May 31, 2009
Photo of BZero007
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from Rick's Wine and Gourmet in Alexandria, VA.

Stone RIS '09

Poured in to my Portsmouth tulip, pours a pitch black color with a very minimal light brown head. Had to force the pour to get even an half an inch of head to form. Head forms minimal and stays around for abit. Aroma is of a very chocolate and mallasas mix. The Malasses taste is very prominant for me and is ocompanied by the chocolate and coffee flavors. The brew is thick but not overly thick and filling. Carbonation is minimum and average for a good RIS and helps with the drinkability. The brew it's self is very tasty but watch out for the alcohol level when you have finished the 22oz it will hit you. I am very interested in sampaling the older versions of this particular brew. Will continue to cellar each year of this brew.

BZero007, May 31, 2009
Photo of hooliganlife
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2008

A - poured thick dark black with thin light cocoa head. nice retention and little lacing

S - very rich with candied cherry, vanilla, sweet malts, and light coffee

T - very rich! coffee up front and through the finish. light chocolate and sweet roasted malts backing this up. slight molasses and vanilla.

M - fairly thick and oil like. light carbonation gives it some life.

D - good stuff! great blends and balance make this super smooth and easy. i had this in the fall of 08 and it was a little more harsh. for 10.8 ABV, the alcohol is hidden well. this is very smooth overall.

hooliganlife, May 31, 2009
Photo of cavedave
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick, darkest cordovan, opaque. A thin tan head dissipates quickly to a thin ring to the edge of the pint glass.

Smell is rich and thick, dark caramel, coffee, chocolate, bitter herbs, earth. A thin but penetrating warmth of alcohol ushers this wondrous bouquet through my nose and to the pleasure centers of my brain.

Taste is a verification, and amplification, of the smell. A blast of coffee and dark chocolate blast across my tongue, followed by sweet yeast, roasted malt, deep dank herbs, and earth, finally ending in a finish I can only describe as the last stage of a four stage firework, when you think it ends, another round of beauty follows. There is a sweetness here, and a taste of alcohol, but they are both balanced with the overall profile as to be ghosts, there, but not there. I was ready to not like this, I am a big fan of Stone, and wanted to be hyper critical to assure objectivity in this review, but this is fucking delicious, complex, deep and dank, everything you could want in an American Imp stout.

Mouthfeel is great, thick, resinous, full bodied but somehow light as it slowly clears out for the next sip.

Drinkability is very good, this is a good sipper. It's potency might limit, but the flavor invites a long sipping session.

cavedave, May 31, 2009
Photo of WakeandBake
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A thick oily black pour with a medium sized brown head. Aroma of roasted barley,charred malt,molasis,coffee and a hint of alcohol. Flavor is huge,malty sweet,some coffee,anise,smoke,dark roasted barley,and rasins, a smooth creamy mouthfeel,soft carbonation,lots of sticky lacing, with a slightly bitter coffee/alcohol burn finish. Another very good brew from Stone.

WakeandBake, May 30, 2009
Photo of barnzy78
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Pours black with no transparency. Milk chocolaty brown head is thick but quick to dissipate. Aromas are sweet, toasty roasted malts, and chocolate - not much else. Mouth-feel is creamy and thick - coats the palate well. Tastes are bitter chocolate with hints of espresso and slight molasses. Lingering dark chocolate finish with white pepper and a hint of anise. As the ale approaches room temperature, fruity esters add to the complexity giving off notes of black cherry and black currant. Also is more boozy as it warms, although overall the alcohol is well concealed for an RIS (or IRS in this case). Really enjoyed this one. One of the better Imperial Stouts I've had, and yet another great Stone brew!

barnzy78, May 28, 2009
Photo of Casey10
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally showed up in Maine.. I have been waiting to try this for awile.

A - Dark brown no light going through this.

S - Smell of burnt coffee chocolate

T mmm good dark burnt chocolate very good stout

M foamy nice dry burnt stout feel again burnt coffe notes

D - good now I think it will be even better cellared. I think one poster wondered why this came out as a spring/summer drink. I think the people at stone know that with age this will be a great winter drink so are giving us the ability to do that. My two cents anyway. Will follow up after having a chance to cellar.

Casey10, May 28, 2009
Photo of GodOfBeer
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, "2009 limited spring release."

Pours a nice thick black with a nice two inch thick tan head, some lacing sticks to the glass.

Smells of rich molasses, coffee, chocolate, a slight burnt grain smell, like a typical RIS.

Tastes wonderful, very malty, chocolatey, lots of molasses, coffee, a nice hop bitter finish as well. The alcohol is kind of noticeable, but not too bad.

Nice thick syrupy mouthfeel, qutie drinkable, I don't know about a spring beer though, but this would be good for a cold winter night in the middle of butt fuck nowhere!

GodOfBeer, May 27, 2009
Photo of Buschyfor3
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 22oz bottle into my Duvel tulip (as I see on Stone's website, it looks as if they serve their IRS in a similarly shaped, flared tulip glass).

A: Pours a deep, oily black and quite a sluggish pour at that. There is a slight cascade effect which builds up under a billowing, thick, creamy, dark khaki head that sticks around throughout the glass. Lacing coats the glass. My brother in law commented that this beer looks "sinister." Killer looking stout.

S: I get a huge dark fruit (maybe the black currants) blending with a heavy, boozy note. Alot of big roastiness in the form of hot, black coffee. Bottle also indicates anise, but I'm not picking much of that through the booziness in the nose.

T: Huge and complex! Dark bittersweet chocolate and big, bold, black coffee up front. Then the hints of molasses, sweet dark fruit and the faintest kiss of licorice make an appearance. The booze in the nose makes its presence well known here, following the initial wave of sweetness with a warming blast of peppery flavor that rides well into the finish where it is only surpassed by a fleeting moment of hop bitterness. Finish pulls out a mellower, roasted coffee profile that lingers long after each sip.

M: Thick, oily, chewy. Very low carbonation. This RIS coats the glass and the throat.

D: Huge ABV (10.5%) and it kicks you in the ass from the start of the bottle… it's definitely hot! (To me, this was noticeably more boozy than Bell's Expedition Stout that I tried a few weeks back). You must SIP this beer. It took me over an hour to finish the bottle, and the alcohol only seems to grow as it warms up. Overwhelming booziness impairs the drinkability to some degree, and for that reason alone I docked a few points from the final score. Otherwise, quite an enjoyable sipper, and one that took me most of the evening to finish.

Some age on the bottle would surely smooth out the alcohol presence and allow greater exploration of the complexities in this devilishly delicious stout. I would say that Stone's offering has a more complex, nuanced palate as compared to Bell's Expedition Stout (as a point of reference), but that Expedition just nudges ahead in terms of better drinkability for such a high ABV stout - but not by a wide margin! Nonetheless, a fresh bottle of Stone's IRS is very much worthy of a purchase - it is complex and has all the hallmarks of a supreme stout, not to mention a highly agreeable price point of $5.49/bomber. Recommended.

Buschyfor3, May 27, 2009
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,960 ratings.