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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.

7,300 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,300
Reviews: 2,602
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 593
Gots: 1,652 | FT: 94
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: 7,300 | Reviews: 2,602 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'08 on-tap at 3Fs.
A: pitch black with a thick brown persistent head and lacing.
S: bitter chocolate, dark espresso, some dark dried fruit underneath.
T: sweet dark molasses-like malts are well-balanced by the roasted malts and hop bitterness. chocolate, coffee flavors. no boozy alcohol despite the abv, which is a big plus for me.
M: big but not overly viscous. nicely carbonated, which helps this not to feel too thick.
D: a very nice ris. big but not huge, with the requisite expected flavors. being on tap and well-cellared probably didn't hurt.

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a 2009 bottle.

Pours jet black with a thin brown head. Head dissapated and there is nothing left but a ring. No lacing.

Aroma is great. The aroma makes ne think about stone brewery itself. It's pretty unique. Very roasty and sweet. Dark caramels and burnt sugars. Smells great.

Flavor is just how it smells. The roast is so well balanced with the caramel and sweet maltiness. I have had this aged with about 6 years on it too and it smooths out so well. It's pretty smooth at this age too but it gets even better. A little alcohol burn but again with age it goes away.

Mouthfeel is great. Good and thick like an RIS ahould be but not too viscous. Just right on the carb as well.

Overall I could drink a couple in one sitting but not too much. I will be buying a whole case this year to keep for years to come.

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

Thanks so much Beerandblues2 for sending this in a secret santa package. Much obliged. Dark opaque black, frothy mocha head. Oily and viscous looking. Milk chocolate dominates the nose, and is then followed by anise, mochachinos, roasted malts, and american hops. Milk chocolate taste, cocoa beans, roasted cofee, and bitter as all get out! Great! Awesome length, sweet roasty hops bitterness finish, but unfortunately, has some chalky astringency. Pretty damn good, just wish it was less dry on the finish. Thanks again Brad! IOU!

Photo of jsh420
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 spring release

pours dark dark brown very close to black - 2 finger tan head that had good retention and left spotted lacing

smell big roasted chocolate malts - no hops which was odd given this is a stone beer

taste - again no hops but this beer is dead on RIS flavors - some booze but i think it will settle down year after year

mouthfeel very rich smooth and creamy

drinkability is great even @ the 10+abv

Photo of thain709
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Served with a pitch black body...there was not light getting through this one...a small, dark brown head sat on top...it became wispy but still left some decent lacing

S - Roasted aromas of cocoa beans, coffee beans, and malts...hops are lingering...some underlying notes of dark fruits as well

T - As the nose suggested...there is a wonderful combination of chocolate and coffee flavors present...the chocolate is dark and bittersweet while the coffee is strong and also bitter...there is a touch of vanilla that mellows out the bitterness...the fruits are pushed to the back by the big roastiness of the beans and malts...the hops once again linger at the end and pair nicely with the coffee and chocolate

M - Heavy body...thick and creamy...coats the palate nicely leaving you wanting another sip

D - This was a great RIS and of course it's from Stone...the flavors paired well with one another and the 10.5% was well hidden but I wouldn't want to push the limits

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

This was a one year old bottle that had been refrigerated at 54 degrees. My tasting requires a little bit of a story.

The first night I opened the bottle, I poured a healthy portion into an oversized wine glass. Carbonation was low, but appropriate, I think, to the style. The head was, consequently, small and dissipated pretty quickly. The overall appearance was that of espresso, even down to the head. It was very similar to the froth on the top of a fresh cup of espresso.

As for the aroma, it was reminiscent of when my father would put a little Sambucca in his coffee. There was a good coffee aroma with a surprisingly strong alcoholic overtone. I just anticipated the alcohol to be more mellowed after a year. There is, also, a healthy smell of bitter chocolate.

The taste was "bam!", heavy alcohol. The coffee, chocolate and malt flavors were there, but overwhelmed by the alcohol. A let it sit. It got better. I let it sit a little more. It got even better. I was done the glass and decided to sit it aside for the next night. This is where the story comes in.

So, I'm fairly new at this and I chalk this up to a learning experience. I decided to cap the bottle with a reusable cork seal that I use with wine. I then put it on its side in my wine fridge. Big mistake. The next day when I returned from a day of work, the inside of the fridge and our kitchen counter and floor were covered with Imperial Russian Stout. By the spray inside the fridge it was clear the cork hadn't just leaked. It exploded!

Disappointed, I poured the remaining stout into a glass and "Wow!" The flavor was awesome. I can only speculate that the beer sitting in the open bottle in the fridge really allowed it to air. The alcohol had mellowed considerably, though still present, and the flavors soared. Wonderful coffee and rich chocolate with a warm to hot feel.

The mouthfeel was fantastic. The carbonation, obviously, had dissipated, but was replaced by a creaminess on the pallet.

Overall, this is a wonderful IRS. But my recommendation would be to cork it, put it in a fridge, let it explode and sit over night. Then enjoy!

Photo of Blakaeris
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours opaque black with a velvety dark brown head that quickly becomes a thin ring, but leaves plenty of sticky lacing.

Aroma is roasted bitter dark grain and sweet dark fruit along with generous anise. Alcohol is strong and hot throughout.

Taste is dark malt and chocolate up front. Plenty of dark fruit sweetness - notably plum, raisin, and fig. Good bit of coffee bitterness and leafy tobacco. Finish is dry with lingering anise and alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy.

A very rich and full flavored stout. Plenty of interesting subtleties within the complex flavor profile.

Photo of Beerisheaven
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 Limited Spring Release Edition into an awaiting Dogfish snifter. Have had this one in the cellar for three years so decided now was the time to crack this one open.

A - Pours pretty much black with minimal head and lacing. Some small bubbles that float along the top of the brew but that was about it.

S - Predominantly dark fruits, very reach and inviting. A strong dark backbone and a hint of coffee and chocolate as well.

T - Really interesting in that the taste profile has really settled down compared to fresh bottles of this. No real strong alcohol and the slight ashy taste is gone as well. What you taste are dark fruits, chocolate, some coffee, and a dark full roast.

M - Nice, maybe not as full as the fresh bottles because there was little head to this one. Still very nice.

D - The fresh bottles are a little bit too boozy forward for my liking. This one was great.

I might have picked up the slightest tinge of oxidation in this one. It drinks well, just wondering if this is the outer limit for this one. Perhaps the 08 might be the star of a vertical. Very good and enjoyable beer from a great brewery.

Photo of Zippie9999
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

S: Nice screen printed 22oz. bomber poured in a La Chouffe chalice .
A: Very dark almost opaque black w/ a slight brown head reminid
isant of a coffee or latte head with minimal carbonation.
S: Coffee, chocolate, alcohol (in a good way)
T: Lots of coffee, chocolate, robust ,tobacco
M: full, slightly chewy, hides ABV well
D: Smooth, very drinkable for this style of beer. Founders breakfast stout, take note!!!
O: Exceptional. Very smooth and intricate for this style. One of the best RIPS' in my opinion! Beats Founders, Otter Creek and Great Divide Yeti, if that's any inclination!

Photo of thegodfather2701
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my 100th review so why not review my favorite beer. These two reviews are based on notes taken from a 2008 and 2009 vintage.

2009 Vintage from notes taken on 5-23-09

A-Poured into my Chimay chalice it is pitch black with a dense, thick, tan head that slowly dissipates. There is some cascading but no lasting lacing on the glass. Beautiful beer.

S-Complex nose consisting of chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and alcohol. Smells delicious.

T-Coffee, chocolate, cream, and brown sugar are dominant. There is some alcohol sweetness. The chocolate really comes through as it warms.

M-Nicely carbonated and creamy.

D-Very drinkable RIS. It is complex and delicious. Its high alcohol content make it hard to drink more than one bomber.

Overall, an exceptional RIS. It is great fresh and can't wait to age some bottles for future enjoyment.

2008 Vintage notes taken from Spring 2009 after roughly a year of aging.

A-Poured into my Chimay chalice. It is pitch black and thick. A tiny tan head dissipates almost immediately and leaves no lacing. A seductive looking beer.

S-Smells sweet, chocolate, grapes, dark fruits, and alcohol are present. It smells absolutely wonderful.

T-Extraordinary, it is so complex I wish I had the palate to do it justice. Rich milk chocolate, espresso, cream, dark fruits, and a hint of alcohol. Like all exceptional beers each sip leaves you thirsting for more.

M-Moderately thick with some carbonation.

D-This beer is deceptive as the alcohol is well hidden making it dangerous. It is so complex it needs to be sipped slowly to properly enjoy it.

Overall, it is a wonderful example of the style. My favorite beer hands down.

Photo of laituegonflable
3.55/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours pretty damned opaque black, slight red tinge when really held up to the light, very decent head - ochre in colour - sticks around at about half a cm thick, leaving some gorgeous clingy lace, really sticky webs of beige foam. Very nice stout appearance.

Nose is fairly burnt, but yeah, very sweet, almost too sweet. Lots of nuts - almonds and hazelnuts - with a fair cocoa character and a bit of milk. A bit lacking in the burnt aromas I would expect from an RIS. Has a kind of milk coffee aroma. Doesn't smell bad, but I want more roastiness from it, it actually smells a bit weak.

Taste is a lot stronger, but still very sweet indeed. Lacks the roastiness again. Has some roasty ashy hints, but there is more prominence given to some strong alcohol hits on the mid and back. Some hints of roasted espresso, cocoa, oak and some coppery metallic character on there as well. But yeah, a really strong alcohol kick to it and comes across more as a dessert wine than a beer, with the sweetness and noticeable booziness. Definitely could use more roasty bitterness, just lacks potency in flavour. I like strong flavour, not just strong beer.

Mouthfeel is very full, quite stinging though when alcohol comes through. A bit grainy, not bad but could be smoother.

A pleasant drinking beer, but I just would prefer less sweetness.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.58/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber bottle in to my Duvel tulip glass

A - Very deep black colour with a small amount of fomay coffee-coloured head. Some visible carbonation.

S - Very strong chocolate smell with some coffee and a clear alcohol presence. A very robust smell.

T - The chocolate nose didn't lie - a very prevalent chocolate taste. Also a very strong alcohol taste, too strong for my liking.

M - A medium to full body; slightly chewy.

D - A good imperial stout, but not as drinkable as some others. The alcohol is just too prevalent for me and creates a lasting aftertaste that follows every sip.

Overall a good beer, but not the best RIS that I have had.

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

Spring 2008 release bottle poured at cellar temperature.

A: Pour is black with a thick finger and a half head that holds for some time.

S: Roasted malts, chocolate, booze, coffee, dark fruit. Very nice and complex.

T: Not quite as complex as the nose. The same characteristics are there, just not at the same level. Bitterness at the tip of the tongue and a touch of booze at the end with the chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and malt all melded in between.

M: Nice full body with good amount of fiz.

D: Pretty high for the style and abv.

Photo of nectar14
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bottle from 2009, stored in my refrigerator.

A- Pours thick and black, with a 2 finger tan/brown head. Imposing.

S- Chocolate, coffee, booze, and grains. Appetizing... if you want your appetizer to smell like dessert.

T- Broad and sappy dark chocolate, coffee beans, caramel syrup, and toasted bread.

M- Actually quite smooth for such a big beer. Quite a bit more easygoing than when I first had this, which was a week or two after its release. Rough edges are just about gone.

D- Boozy, but the smoothness helps in this area.

Really liked it. I have one more 2009 and I will plan to stash away several 2010s when released in a week.

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

Creamy tan head that is pretty light - not much retention nor lacing.

aromas of cherry, alcohol bite, roasty, dark fruits, chocolate, coffee, toffee.

woah - amazingly complex flavors...more roasty than i remember. strong coffee/chocolate flavors with an overarching presence of alcohol and dark fruits/berries, roasted/smoked tastes come through strongly. Vanilla, toffee, deliciousness. I love complex stouts.

Overall I think this is an amazing beer - still a bit cold from the refrigerator and I think aging would do this beer wonders!

Photo of hophead247
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Small somewhat creamy light brown head that mostly diminished. Pitch black color. Aroma of bread, molasses, caramel, chocolate, coffee, toasted malt. Light alcoholic sniff, plum, prune, date, licorice. Very complex aroma. Full bodied with an alcoholic texture and a soft carbonation. Excellent balance between the moderated sweet malt and bitter flavor. Berries sweet and lingering finish. Smooth and very nice thick beer. Definitely one of my favorite RIS.

Photo of cpetrone84
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle

A-pours a jet black, thick motor oil looking liquid with a thin golden brown head that lingers for just a moment.

S-the nose is nice and brings molasses up front, some blackcurrent, hints coffee and dark chocolate. there is also a level of balance with some sweet citrusy hops at the very end that become more pronounced as it warms.

T/M-the taste is quite big. it is full to medium body and smooth and creamy. nicely carbonated and a clean finish. the taste follows the nose and brings molasses, black current, notes of coffee, some tasty dark chocolate. this also brings a touch of sweet dark fruits towards the finish bringing raisin and dried plum. as it warms the hops at the finish actually become more present and really bring a nice balance.

D-this is quite tasty and brings a nice level of complexity. it isn't as big as the top dawgs imo; but it quite nice!

Photo of willPS21
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Does it get better?? I was fortunate enough to run into this one years ago, and have bought on sight ever since. OK, initially I bought it for the high abv, but even then in my infancy as a beer drinker, I knew this one had to be special. Since then, each time I come back around to it, it seems better than before. I had '08's that were tremendous, but then most recently I was amazed that the '09 was essentially equal. I think if I had to pick its number one asset, it's the balance. It has a spicy warmth like a Three Philosophers, but this is subdued so masterfully with the delicious malty chocolate and coffee tones. The roundness in the mouth is unprecedented. The alc isn't evident, at least not in a way even close to the number on the bottle. I have some Founders Breakfast Stout in the fridge, which I eagerly await to compare to the Stone, but I don't see how it will dethrone my beloved IRS. Drinkability: Too good. I've had two back to back, and it's so good that I wanted a third. When I went to go look for a third, I had to stand up...
I like it seved nice and chilled.. I've had it warm and it is quite a different, far more pungent flavor profile, but still it's pretty enjoyable.

Photo of DNICE555
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Glad this beer is readily available all the way over in my neck of the woods now.

A - Black as a Halloween night. Foamy Tan head like a rabid black cat.

S - Chocolate, roasted coffee, grains, alcohol, some fruit and bitter hops. Smells like my kind of stout.

T - Very rich chocolate malt coffee fruit with a hoppy finish to balance it out perfectly. I love this stout.

M - Rich and creamy. The most balanced stout that I have had to date.

D - Smooth, balanced, could drink a couple hundred of these... too bad its such a high abv so one will have to do.

Photo of biglite351
3/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I wanted to like this beer more. I really did. All the talk about Stone Brewing and how good everything is...

My issue... hops and bitterness.

I like Stouts because of their typical lack of hops and bitterness. This brew is certainly Stone Brewing. Stone loves their hops and bitterness and they managed to get some into their Imperial Stout as well.

I did not care for the smell and the taste put me off as it is mildly hoppy and bitter. Midly for beers on average, very hoppy and bitter for a stout.

If you like other Stone Brewing brews then you should like this one as well.

Photo of ericj551
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 2009 bottle. Stone IRS pours an inky black with a thick brown head. Not a bit of light shines through when held up to the bulb. The aroma is sweet and chocolatey with hints of caramel and toffee. The flavor is rich chocolate, with tons of sweet crystal malt flavor balancing out a slight astringency of the roasted malt. The finish is dark with hints of coffee and earthy bitterness. Some alcohol burn comes through in the end, but at 10.5% I wouldn't expect otherwise. This is definitely towards the sweet chocolatey end of imperial stouts, and I don't know how they could do it better.

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

2008 version. I like the Cossack hat on the gargoyle on the bottle - awkward, but funny.

This beer pours a complete black, with one finger of soapy beige head, which quickly dissipates, leaving a ring of painted lace around the glass. It smells of roasted malt, dry chocolate, warming alcohol, and mild earthy, piney hops. The taste is sweet lightly-toasted malt, dry coffee, a bit of anise, treacle, an underlying citrus/pine hoppiness, and a mild, but enveloping, warm booziness. The carbonation is practically non-existent, the body thick, unctuous, and velvety smooth, like buttah, and it finishes with a slight citrus hop edge over top of the solid malt.

A very drinkable and enjoyable RIS, but make nice and share this monster of a brew.

Photo of PorterLambic
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a cocoa powder colored head. Good sized pile of foam but it drops quickly leaving little lace.
Smell is malty, vanilla, hint of hops, dark fruit, alcohol and molasses.
Taste is everything offered to the olfactory sense with coffee and smoke added in. Great balance.
Medium-full bodied with a medium effervescence. Fairly smooth with a slightly dry finish. Oh, yeah, this is some seriously good stuff.

Photo of garbercury
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Reed415 for the generous Xmas gift!

2007 vintage, poured into snifter.

A--Not much carbonation or head...

S--Chocolate and malts stand out in this brew.

T--Really excellent flavor, the chocolate stands out which works well for me.

M--Good silky moutfeel

D--This is an awesome beer. Not sure how long this beer can age before it "turns", but a nice choice for my first Super Bowl sunday beer day.

Photo of RppIII
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

Appearance: Black viscous and impenetrable this liquid slowly releases bubbles of carbonation that make their journey up through the oil like substance to eventually reach the top to create a buttery tan head. The head retreats slowly to reveal a lackluster black abyss. Rings of chocolate brown coat the sides of the glass and ever so slowly lacing settles back down the sides of the glass to rejoin the delicious black liquid waiting for me.

Smell: Becoming more aromatic as this brew warms up I detect large amounts of roast barley, dark malts, butter cream, a hint of vanilla, and hops come through on the end. Surprisingly for a 10%+ abv there is very little alcohol presence in the nose.

Taste: Dark and viscous this beer is packed with flavour from start to finish. Malt, roasted thick viscous malt filled with tons of chocolate, anise, and a bitter hop presence that gives you a kick in the mouth for a finish. Not as sweet as the nose would have let me to believe but a hint of vanilla and bitter sweet butter cream make an appearance giving nice contrast to the immense malt and bitter hop flavours. The alcohol of this beer is subtle and after half of the bottle you are reminded of its presence. All elements of this beer work together in wonderful harmony and contrast to bring out every flavour in this rich and incredibly "stout" beer.

Mouthful: The mouth is fantastic, creamy and smooth; I especially love the silky feel of this brew is it comes closer to room temperature and more poignant. The sheer viscosity of this beer would lead me to believe I was drinking pure maple syrup.

Drinkability: I would like to thank Stone for creating such a magnificent full-bodied brew in the style of an Russian Imperial Stout, Stone is known for making first-rate products and this is no exception. This afternoon I ventured into the almost three feet of snow outside to build an igloo and this is the perfect beer to come in and warm up to. In fact once I finish this review I am going to give this beer a field test by taking it into the igloo to finish what I have left.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,300 ratings.