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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.

6,926 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,926
Reviews: 2,583
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 521
Gots: 1,509 | 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
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Ratings: 6,926 | Reviews: 2,583 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DarbyOGill
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Poured like molasses, jet black, with a think brown head. Pretty nice lacing. REALLY DARK

S: Smells boozy, but at 11% ABV that isn't surprising. Strong malt flavors also come through.

T: Starts with alcolhol taste hitting the palette followed by a little burn. The alcohol is then followed by chocolate hints and I get a slight coffee flavor. I always get a flavor resembling soy sauce in all RIS I drink, this beer is no exception (and for some reason it's a good thing). I got a strong malty flavor throughout each sip, which was really enjoyable. It ends similarly to how it starts, I get a nice alcohol finish.

D: Goes down really smooth. Not as heavy as I expected, but I could probably only drink 1 or 2 before moving to lighter beers. This beer is pretty hard hitting. This is my first beer of the night and I'm already feeling it pretty good. Anything over 1 or 2 would be a waste anyways, because I'd already be tipsy at that point.

DarbyOGill, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of MacDomer
3.6/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from 2008 poured into my Duvel tulip.

Looks nice - this is black as black can be, light tan head which doesn't last, not much of a cap either after 5 min. Smells good, and the thing that jumps out to me is some kind of sweetness. It's pretty rich, with some chocolate, dates, raisins, some licorice, prunes, and I'm sure some other things I'm missing. A bit of alcohol. Taste is also good, medium-full, pretty rich, and rather sweet. Flavors like the nose. Ton of malt. Feels fine, but I'd prefer less carbonation. I'm going to score this lower on the drinkability scale, not because it isn't sessionable (which it's not, but what are you expecting from a RIS after all?), but because after I eventually consume the other couple of bottles of this that I have, I probably will not seek out again. Fun to try, but just not to my taste. A bit too sweet for how I like my RIS.

MacDomer, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of BARFLYB
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle in a snifter. Split with oglmcdgl, 09 version.

A- IRS is black, dark and bold looking. A tan mocha head with some retention sat on top for a while before defleating. Nice sheets of lacing stuck to the glass.

S- dark sweet chocolate with some hops hiding. Roasted malts and sweet coffee. A lot of dark fruits as well with some alcohol coming from this fresh bottle. A bit of cream and vanilla in the distance.

T- A sweet blast of chocolate with coffee not to far behind. Roasted malts follow and play well with the vanilla/cream underlay. I'm getting just a hint of a tootsie roll flavor. Some hops balance it all out making for a delicious treat. A bit of fresh alcohol.

M- Full bodied with some apparent alcohol sting but some malt fullness to heal any wounds. Coats the mouth with the main ingredients focusing on chocolate. Some bitterness and a bit of carbonation. Pretty good all around.

D- Best to be split with the high ABV but I could see myself with one of these in the middle of winter. Not the most drinkable RIS i've had but perhaps some age can fix the dents. Gets better with some chocolate nearby.

BARFLYB, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of lamarr04
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into tulip glass

A: Pours nearly pitch black with thin dark tan head that quickly dissolves to nothing

S: Dark chocolate and prune are the first two notes to hit my noes. There is some underlying coffee and smokiness that follows shortly after. Trying my best to find the alcohol but I can't. maybe it needs to warm up a bit or maybe its just masked by the other big aromas.

T: Bitter chocolate hits the tongue. followed by a subtle fruitiness and acidic coffee. the heat from the alcohol comes through pleasantly at the end but is dangerously well masked, especially for a bottle with no age on it.

M: Viscous lingering mouthfeel. subdued carbonation. what one would expect in a russian imperial stout.

D: A sipper by definition but an enjoyable one. the complex flavor and aroma in combination with the well masked alcohol gives this one high marks for drinkability.

lamarr04, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of mechamifune
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

For a beer of such high ABV, this is exceptionally drinkable. A slight alcohol tinge in the aftertaste, but a very pleasant smoothness is immediately apparent. Of the dozen or so "Imperial Stouts" i've had, this is probably the most pleasant. Among stouts in general i would consider it second only to founders breakfast stout. Highly recommended.

mechamifune, Apr 14, 2009
Photo of ahpark
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a tulip. Beer is completely opaque in glass with nice dark roast coffee-esque head. Scent is superb; if I didn't know better I'd think I was smelling a glass of chocolate milk or one of those sugary Starbucks drinks. A hint of hazelnut or almond is also present at the end.

Taste is reminiscent of a strong iced espresso. There's a nice, in-your-face dark chocolate bitterness upfront, and as it goes down the throat, a nice aroma of roasted coffee beans and dark burnt caramel invades your palate with a nice alcohol burn to warm up your stomach. I could imagine someone drinking this and mistaking it for a dark roast Irish coffee.

Mouthfeel is nice and thick as a RIS should be. Feels like a nice thick cappuccino milkshake that coats your entire mouth before it goes down. You can actually feel it coating your esophagus and your stomach on the way down. Wonderful.

Drinkability is unrivaled, compared to RIS's I've tried. Alcohol is completely balanced with the flavor, to the point that it's really not noticeable until it's down the hatch. I could see myself drinking these regularly as a nightcap, like a cup of warm milk before bed. Even better, I drool at the thought of having a pint of this on nitro tap.

Overall, this is an amazing RIS. I'm a fan of stouts and porters, but generally not a fan of RIS's because the alcohol takes over the flavors in a large number of them. But this is ridiculously balanced, so much so that I probably wouldn't have known this was a RIS. For now, it's the best RIS I've had, and recommend it to everyone without hesitation.

ahpark, Apr 14, 2009
Photo of brianlg
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2009 bomber. Pours dark black color with a chocolate milk colored head. Just beautiful. I love imperial stouts. Anyways, Stone's IRS smells very sweet, of chocolate, coffee, and malts malts malts. The taste is perfect. This might be the best tasting beer I've had. Even more so than KBS. Tastes so damn smooth, and of coffee, chocolate, toffee, candy, it's very sweet in a good RIS way! So damn delicious, a bomber is not hard to kill. Mouthfeel is near pefect as well, nothing bad to say about this beer. It's very smooth. The alcohol is hidden extremely well. Drinkability.. lets just say I'm going to pick up many bottles of this whenever I go out next. Fucking loved it.

brianlg, Apr 14, 2009
Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Limited Spring 2008 release, enjoyed an hour after Easter dinner; with Stone Brewing Company's reputation for making excellent beer, I quite looked forward to this.

Opaque, pitch black with a one and a half finger tan head that receded leaving a cloudy, bubbly film over most of the surface. Moderate lacing, head easily regenerates with a swirl. Smells of leather, subdued coffee aroma, brownies and pumpernickel loaf. The taste is really big but not that complex - anise and black licorice predominate but not a lot else going on despite airing and warming. There is a dry brazil nut astringency that compromises a better mouthfeel, a little too astringent for my tastes. Because of that, the texture is just a little rough even considering the style. As well, warming brought out a burnt wood / charcoal aroma. On the plus side, the high ABV is reasonably well handled and there is a hearty, substantial fullness to this stout that is consistent with the style, heavy duty might be a good term for it, this is obviously not a beer for the meek and mild.

Overall, I wish I had cellared this another year during which time the astringency might have settled somewhat and allowed for greater complexity in taste and a more rewarding mouthfeel. The advice on the label to cellar a case and try it at six month intervals is pretty sage and I'd love to try doing that sometime.

ThatWineGuy, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of stoutfiend27
3.15/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 22 oz bottle poured into my duvel tulip

a-oil black and thick..no light penetration...short lived espresso colored head

s-sweet, slight notes of coffee but the sweet smell really puts off all other smells and over powers this brew

t-toffee and caramel and very sweet..i cannot pin point what the sweet taste or smell is but it puts me off..

m-thick and oily...it has good mouthfeel for a ris

d-would not seek this out to have another...def a try once and move on to another brew

overall i was let down...i like all of stones year round offerings quite well with the exception of the smoked porter....maybe i had an off bottle but being as i took it out of the delivery box before it hit the shelves i doubt it...

stoutfiend27, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of John_M
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours the expected black brown color, with pretty good head retention and plenty of sticky lacing. On the nose there is a huge blast of coffee, coupled with some roasty malt and vanilla. Flavors on the palate replicate the nose, except there is an underlying creaminess that is really nice. Interestingly, the beer starts off with some moderate sweetness, but the finish is pretty dry. There is also a hint of cherry, licorise and chocolate in this impressive stout. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but there is a long, creamy, smooth finish that is impressive. Drinkability is pretty good, though you can tell the alcohol is up there a bit. This is clearly the sort of beer that you won't be pounding down a whole lot of.

A couple of thoughts. This is a very good beer, but I have to say, that at least in my opinion, it's not in the same league with Dark Lord, Abyss and KBS. In fact I would probably take the Goose Island Bourbon County over this beer. All that aside, this is still a very fine beer, and an absolute treat to find on tap. Cheers!

John_M, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of jsp2
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Oily dark rich pour into a pint glass with a thick coffee cream colored dense head.

Aroma is a mixture of roasted barley, coffee, raisins, vanilla, and liquorice and is very strong.

Sweet and nutty approach followed by vanilla, coffee, enormous maltiness and finally a slightly dry alcohol finish. Wow. Incredibly smooth and oily feel and carbonation is pretty low. Bitterness is well used and balances enormous malt throughout the brew.

This is probably my favorite RIS and one of the best all around beers I have enjoyed. You can really spend a long time sipping a bottle of this stuff. Very complex and interesting flavor with great balance. I will be buying a case of this to cellar.

jsp2, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of jfunkk79
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a bottle of '08

A: Pours black into my Brooklyn snifter with a finger of dark brown bubbles.

S: Hints of chocolate, brown sugar, slightly sweet, amazing.

T: I'm having trouble explaining this one, it's got a nice bite of hop but is so perfectly balanced with the creaminess.

M: Heavy up front and slow to fade but it's an awesome ride.

D: Extremely drinkable.

jfunkk79, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of caddybuyer
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber.

Spring 2009 Release

A-Deep brown opaque with a fluffy tan head

S-Roasted malts and dark fruits. Very nice.

T-Thick, sweet malty goodness accented by dark fruits, chickory, coffee, and a hint of cocoa. Honey and molasses, caramel, and perhaps a hint of licorice and cherry thrown in. A bit of back end hop bitterness, but not much. Utterly delicious.

M-Damn near perfect. Thick, chewy and viscous. A perfect match for the style.

D-One and done with this, but only because of the nature of the beast. Thank goodness I have more in the cellar, and I am going out to get more as well. You cannot drink more than one of these and appreciate the nuances.

Stone remains one of my favorite breweries, and this is an absolutely tasty effort. I am going to introduce this to my stout drinking friends who think Guinness is gods gift to the Irish. Damn this is good. Now I just have to decide which I like more, this, or Founders Breakfast!

caddybuyer, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of crazeguy
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from Bomber into a New Belgium goblet.

Deep jet black color. Brown thin head.

Smells roasty and espresso-ey. Smells like the better stouts I've had. Reminiscent of Old Rasputin for example.

Taste is strong and determined. Pleasant though.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy.

This is probably the best RIS I've had. Beats Speedway Stout by a mile.

Can't wait to taste this with a few years on it.

crazeguy, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of Stunner97
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Dark and thick syrupy pour, with engine oil black color, nice tan brown lacing, very nice appearance and beautiful in all ways,

Smell- Is full and rich with espresso, roasted malts, slights hops,hints of dark chocolate, sweet smell and so enticing, cant wait for the first sip

Taste- Wow wow wow, probably the best RIS I have ever had, right up there with Ten Fidy, SO complex and so perfect, not one aspect overwhelms you, great roasted malts, espresso, slight chocolate, lots of malts and even touch of hop bitterness, but nothing in one aspect overwhelms you what so ever, there is a slight alcohol presence but nothing bad and imagine this only would get better and softer with age, each sip is better than the next, such a masterful beer cant imagine the flavor after some age,

Mouthfeel- Thick creamy and syrupy, can you say full bodied, great mouthfeel,

Drinkability- So drinkable especially considering the wallop of alcohol this actually does contain, Such an amazing beer that I will continue drinking many many more times, a master piece simply put and if your a fan of russian imperial stouts this is one you must try end of story!

Stunner97, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of Gosox8787
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had heard good things about this beer, and, I must confess, this is my first beer from the Stone Brewery. Picked up at a bottle at my liquor store. Poured into a glass with a slight brown head. The brew is completely opaque and black, resembling most well made Russian Imperial Stouts. The smell is intense with dark fruits, chocolate and coffee being the predominantt aromas. The taste is phenomenal. There is a great balance in all the flavors, with chocolate, coffee, expresso, and dark fruits all present but none overpowering. The mouthfeel is heavy with a slight bite to the carbonation near the end of each sip. Drinkability is not great because of the heavy flavor profile and high ABV.

Overall, one of the better RIS's I have had and a great example of the style. Definitely made me want to try more from this brewery.

Gosox8787, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of Nick3
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a liquid black color that looks as dangerous and ominous as the Warlock on the bottle. No head whatsoever, but a chocolate brown film rims the glass a the top of the brew. Smell is a smoky chocolate mocha and it makes me want to drink it now. Taste is expresso and chocolate. Alcohol is very well masked; could easily put a few of these down. Finish is roasted malts with a touch of hops. Full bodied almost syrupy with low carbonation. Wow, the best RIS I've ever had.

Nick3, Apr 07, 2009
Photo of BringusKilkenney
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from brown bottle. Had a nice black as tar color to it with a thick mocha head that dissipated slowly. Real inviting and just gorgeous color

The smell was of sweet caramel and barley could pick up the alcohol but despite the abv was not a prominent factor.

the taste was great burnt toast and roasted malts just like you would expect in an imperial. What blew me away was the vanilla and sweetness i could catch a hint of this brew is done superbly.

The mouthfeel was heavy like a brick and had a nice balance of carbonation in there to just enough to make you want to go back for more.

Couldnt handle more than two or three of these but wouldnt need to cause you are feeling great after the first and even more so after the second what a great beer to just take your time and enjoy.

BringusKilkenney, Apr 06, 2009
Photo of steelerguy
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black with a large tan head. You are not going to see through this sucker and the head just lasts and lasts.

S - You got your dark fruits smells that are so good in an RIS and you can also get some roasted malt notes with a little licorice.

T - Awesome, full of flavor, super robust, lots of malt flavors to dissect here. At first I tasted plumbs, slightly sweet, then some roasted coffee notes hit. There is a nice hop presence, you will definitely get some bitterness on the palate early on. A little alcohol warming, but you would never guess it was 10.8%. Quite smooth, a viscous feel like most big beers. Didn't really detect the carbonation.

M - Very good, smooth and viscous. You know you a lot of malt went into making this beer. Warming and smooth without being harsh on the alcohol.

D - One of the most drinkable 10%+ beers I have had. Damn near hearty and you could easily drink too much of this because it disguises it's alcohol content so well.

steelerguy, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of db27
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-the party starts before you even pop the top off. Stone did a great job on the bottling, and the fun little story. Pours about as dark as any beer of seen or tried with a small dark tan head.

S-I'd hoped for a little more out of the smell, this one is subtle but evident alcohol smell. I'd expected to get a little more in the way of sweet smell.

T-For a plus 10 percent beer this one doesn't taste it (a good thing IMO) and has very likable nuttiness that I cannot quite place. Strong, complex, and satisfying.

D-Surprisingly drinkable for a bigtime beer of this type, definately a sipper and through one snifter I was feeling it a bit.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer, and would absolutely encourage anyone who can find it to try it.

db27, Apr 03, 2009
Photo of slk22
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours nearly pitch black with a tan/brown head with little to no staying power. This beer is hugely aromatic. Chocolate, coffee, bready malt, nuttiness, and a bit of alcohol. Taste mainly follows the nose with strong coffee or espresso, roasted malt, and a hint of warming alcohol. The main surprise here was the high level of ester sweetness, which was more than expected, and was a tad overbearing. Mouthfeel was medium to full bodied with low to medium carbonation. This is a really nice offering, but is a bit strong for a session beer.

slk22, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of MunchkinDrinker
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black with a dark brown foam that builds slowly to a nice thick head. Sticky lacing all the way down.

S - Dark roasty malts, coffee, chocolate, a little cherry. There's a spicy bitterness that comes in ontop of the underling roasty sweetness.

T/M - Cream, roasted coffee, dark cocoa, dark malty sweetness. There's alot more flavors than this, but my palate is too unsophisticated. Some tangy fruits underneath it all, like blueberries, cherries, or raspberries. Alcohol is simply warming, but it's not there in the flavor, which I think is very nice. Mouthfeel is thick, but not overbearing. It leaves a film in your mouth that at first felt strange, but it imparts the flavor of this wonderful beer in your mouth even when you're not sipping it.

D - It's too high alcohol to be very drinkable. You start to feel it halfway through the glass, but it's wonderful stuff.

MunchkinDrinker, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of AlcahueteJ
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Limited spring 2008 release reviewed in March 2009

A - Pours black as night, one of, if not the darkest beer I've ever seen. Half-inch tan coffee-like head that slowly fades leaving a thin brown lace all over the glass.

S - All roasted malts up front, with bittersweet chocolate coming through after. There's a hop bitterness that pulls through towards the end. It's Stone, there's always hops somewhere.

T - Hint of espresso, followed by bittersweet chocolate flavors. As the beer lingers on the the tongue the espresso flavor returns, only much stronger this time. A bitter roasted flavor all around as well. It's not unwelcome, but I feel this would fade with some time, making the beer more well-rounded.

M - Smooth creamy mouthfeel, not too viscous. I remember the mouthfeel being quite viscous the last time I had this beer years ago, not as much this time. A pronounced hop twang on the tongue as well.

D - I can feel the alcohol slightly, but at 10.8% I should be feeling much more than this. That's really the only negative thing I can say about this beer in terms of drinkability. Truly one of the most drinkable stouts I've tasted, so I'm going to go ahead and give this a 5 here. Definitely a sipper, but something I could easily sip all night long. In this case it's a nightcap though. I have two more bottles I'm cellaring, can't wait to try those out. I have a feeling this beer only gets better.

AlcahueteJ, Mar 28, 2009
Photo of admiralcrunch
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2008 12 oz Bottle into DFH shaped pint. Toast to Michael Jackson's b-day.

A) Tannish head. A thin layer seems to follow the beer down, but not stick. No visible light penetration. I wonder if even a laser would show through (probably)?

S) I smell mostly dark roast coffee; licorice and alcohol.

T) Dark chocolate prevails. I think I'm also detecting some hops at the end.

M) I felt my tongue slightly numb from the alcohol right away, but then it gets chewy.

D) One is plenty! Two in a session might be a waste.

admiralcrunch, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of PSUBeerman
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle (Spring 2008 release); tulip glass

Pours in thick, dark and rich with a foamy 1 finger head. The head is tan and has a neat glistening copper ring around the edge. Nice lacing.

The aroma is outstanding, dominated by bitter chocolate, roastiness, malts, and anise. I picked up a little alcohol in the aroma as well.

Taste is superb. Bitter and sweet chocolate, coffee, malty and nice touch of hops. Alcohol, although evident, is well incorporated. Very aggressive flavors, but very well balanced.

Mouth feel is thick, but creamy. Very smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation.

Overall, this was an experience with the complexity of flavors. The was very strong, but nothing was overpowering. It was hard to put down and simply "sip".

PSUBeerman, Mar 25, 2009
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,926 ratings.