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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.

7,212 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,212
Reviews: 2,598
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 570
Gots: 1,617 | FT: 92
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: 7,212 | Reviews: 2,598 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nickd717
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tried every vintage from '05 to '09 thanks to alfrantzell. I liked the '07 the best, and fortunately largadeer was kind enough to give me an extra bottle from that year which I'm "cellaring" now. Back in my reckless youth I once played beer pong with this beer - bad idea, especially when everyone else is using Natty Light.

A - Black and oily pour with a nice brown head that lasts and good lacing.

S - Aroma is strong roasted malt and coffee, maybe some dark fruits too.

T - Burnt malt flavor, strong coffee with cream, and dark chocolate. Slight hint of roasted meat in the '06, and dark fruits present, more so in some vintages than others. The '05 had some minor sherry-like oxidative notes.

M - Really thick palate but extremely smooth with fairly soft carbonation.

D - Pretty drinkable for the ABV and style.

nickd717, Sep 10, 2009
Photo of Tromba
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a large Duvel tulip glass (bottle indicates a spring 2008 release).

A: Very very dark - almost black. Head is a light chocolate brown and disipates quickly, leaving a thin ring.

S: Chocolate, alcohol, and very dark roasted malts.

T: Very complex. A slightly alcoholic sweetness at first, followed by dark chocolate notes and a very dark roasted, almost burnt, malt character. Some vanilla and oak notes in the background. Finish is sweet with just a faint shadow of hop bitterness.

M: Very full bodied with moderate carbonation. The carbonation level does a good job in lightening up an otherwise massive beer. Slightly syrupy, but nothing you wouldn't expect from the style.

D: As far as 10+% beers go, this one goes down easy! But take your time - this is best enjoyed slowly.

Tromba, Sep 07, 2009
Photo of ectomorph
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

"Limited Spring 2009 Release" into a tall mug.

A - Beyond black. You can't see anything. No carbonation, only a huge 2 finger dark tan head stays parked on top of this one.

S - Roasted coffee and sweet dark fruit. Some chocolate and caramel is picked up as this one begins to warm.

T - Dark chocolate bitterness with a roasted coffee and toffee backbone. Alcohol warmth felt in the belly almost immediately. There is a hop bitterness also, which caught me by surprise. Caramel comes forward at the finish.

M - Big body and carbonation smack you and your mouthfeel around a bit...

D - Ummm @ 10.5% ABV and 22 oz bottles, 1 or 2 tops. :P

ectomorph, Sep 07, 2009
Photo of jdflyer06
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz into a snifter

A: Deep black, "None more black" as Spinal Tap would say. Thick and rich head that leaves a small bit of lacing throughout but doesn't actually stick around.

S: Sweet, chocolate, some cinnamon notes. Slight floral hop aroma and plenty of roasted malt. Alcohol presents itself nicely but takes a backseat.

M: Dry, carbonated and fairly light on the palate. Not as rich as I would have thought although it thickens as it warms. Nice alcohol warmth on the back end. Not sure I'm wild about all of the carbonation. Finishes pretty clean

T: Strong espresso and chocolate flavors followed by burnt malt and a strong roastiness. Some good amount of hop bitterness and alcohol finish it out.

D: Pretty drinkable for the style, although I like my stouts a little creamier and without the heavy carbonation this one presents. Still pretty good, but leaves me longing for more.

jdflyer06, Sep 06, 2009
Photo of flagmantho
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: completely black with a thick, foamy mocha brown head. Really, I don't know what else you'd need in a beer.

Smell: gobs of chocolate and alcohol, a little coffee and malt. Just what I want in a RIS.

Taste: slightly fruity alcohol and enough bitterness to stand up to the malt. At first, some of that great chocolate character from the nose failed to come through in the flavor, but as my glass warms up I'm getting more of that smooth chocolate which is just heavenly on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: thick and coating without being too much to handle. For the style, there's a relatively high level of carbonation here which lends a creaminess to the event. Great!

Drinkability: frankly, most RISs cannot break the 4.0 drinkability limit for me. The flavors are usually great, but the cumulative effect of all that malt plus the Herculean alcoholic content just pull that number down. After some consideration, though, I think Stone's RIS rates a bit higher ... it's just plain good.

flagmantho, Sep 05, 2009
Photo of sjccmd
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spring 09 release

The beer gloops into the glass menacingly dark brown, essentially black. Once in the glass it's all black, even with light shining on it. Dark tan head that erupts slowly and recedes.

Very rich smell. Dark and creamy milk chocolate, with coffee. Toffee and some interesting spiciness I can't quite describe. Smells like dessert.

After the exciting smell, the taste does not disappoint. Bitter dark chocolate, French roasted coffee, it's initially sweet but finishes with a nice bitter espresso finish.

the mouthfeel is pretty interesting. It's full, rich, and thick, but it is also well carbonated. Maybe I would like it less carbonated...but it does help with the drinkability

even on a pretty full stomach this beer is pretty hard to put down, it's very rich but it's not sickly rich...like i said, the carbonation might be slightly high, it seems to make it easier to drink

Overall, this is an excellent beer. I feel like I need to be drinking this for some momentous occasion. I honestly feel like I'm dishonoring the beer by simply enjoying it as an after dinner treat.

sjccmd, Sep 04, 2009
Photo of GeezLynn
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black with a large tan head that quickly diminishes, but then slowly seeps up.
Faint sweet syrupy malt smell. Molasses, vanilla and alcohol.
Heavy on the roasted flavors. Mainly burnt, slightly bitter coffee. Very little in the way of sweetness and very light on the chocolate flavors. Burnt barley and hops at the end - almost a little barleywine like in some respects.
Mouthfeel is alright, but slightly thin and overcarbonated. As far as drinkability, it goes down smoothly, but rests a little hot.

I can't lie. I've enjoyed this grumpy old man. But it doesn't rate anywhere near the top of the RIS list for me. Then again, I haven't experienced Stone RIS with some age on it. But I'm also of the opinion that you shouldn't rate something based on what you project it to be years down the road.

GeezLynn, Sep 02, 2009
Photo of jonziefle
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured completely black, moderately thick. Half-finger dark tan head that fades away to a thin coating relatively quickly. Some lacing, but nothing to write home about.

Smell: Smoky and syrupy sweetness hit the nose first. Black licorice and raisin flavors as well. Not as much of a chocolate or coffee type stout, this is big and boozy. The alcohol is just seeping out.

Taste: Sweet dark fruit/hop bite at the front, with smokey/burnt malts taking over from there. Not syrupy like the nose would suggest. The finish and the linger is almost completely smoke flavors. Good alcohol bite right in the middle.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and incredibly smooth. Just a hint of carbonation tingle. Strong alcohol, with a bite, but doesn’t seem as big as it actually is (10.8%)

Drinkability: A very nice RIS. Strong, but smooth at the same time. Taste wasn’t as complex as I would like and the nose wasn’t that appealing to me, but an overall great beer.

jonziefle, Aug 28, 2009
Photo of brownlderek
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First when pouring the beer into a tulip glass from a twenty-two ounce bottle the head seemed to dissipate as the fluid levels increased. I was slightly discourage to see this, but then took a smell. And again a little more disappointment. The smell almost too light to pickup was not bad, but was nothing to bragging to your friends about. Tiny hints of espresso and chocolate arose from the glass. I tipped the glass took the first sip. Ah utter bliss! They say don't let looks decieve you and this holds true with this beer! Very rich in the dark chocolate flavor with a fair balance of espresso to break through the boldness of the chocolate, smooth carmal flavors that flow over the peripherals of the tongue and a superb syrupy finish that coats the mouth. Most definately a pleasant sipping beer for after dinner while watching TV or chating with friends.

brownlderek, Aug 26, 2009
Photo of cbarrett4
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip glass. Noticed a surprising lack of a head though there was some carbonation noticable in the beer once poured. The color is dark, almost completely opaque with minimal effervesence. Once the glass was brought to the nose, the joy began. This amazing brew displayed a burnt toffee, espresso, caramel, molasses, black currant, and prune nose. Imagine pouring a burnt espresso over a caramel and currant tart. Wow! The first sip was almost sheer horror! Your palate needs to be ready for this monster! But after our initial shock, the beer seemed to get better with each sip.

The palate is dominated by burnt espresso and coffee flavors with some caramel hints. The beer is weighty and rich without seeming too heavy. I would pair this with dessert, especially chocolate, or rich food such as game or stew. It is especially nice on its own.

I want to hate Stone Brewery because everybody I know raves about their beer, but I have to admit that their popularity is well deserved.

(Tasted Aug 24, 2009)

cbarrett4, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of Duhast500
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a bark black and is complete opaque when held to the light with a think deep brown head. Some nice brown lacing.

The smell is a strong mocha coffee flavor. Some sweet roasted malt flavor with some kind of creamy chocolate flavor and a small hint of licorice.

The taste is a bit dark chocolate at first. Some slight maple flavor with a great roasty flavor as well. The beer begins to warm you some as each sip with the slight creamy flavor just toward the back end. Like any Stone beer I have had, this beer is full of flavor.

The feel of this beer is a bit strong with a high ABV. It does have a warming feel to it. It is medium bodied and goes down well. A fantastic beer.

Duhast500, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of tr4nc3d
3.18/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a 22oz Bomber into my Maudite Snifter

I have had a beer sitting in my cellar for about 2-3 months now and decided to pick another one up at the liquor store since I did not want to wait a year to review this beer.

Appearance is opaque black with a three inch mocha colored head that fades about on average. As the head fades it leaves a small amount of the mocha colored foam on top of the beer and on the edges of the beer. Very slight lacing is left behind on the sides of my glass.

Smell consist of chocolate, roasted malts,coffee beans, dark brown sugar, slight metallic smell, minerals, and some slight alcohol heat to it.

Some dark roasted malts upfront, leaning towards slight charred, I'm thinking the use of black malts. Dark unsweetened chocolate with a roasted coffee dry bitterness in the finish. This stout is a little on the harsh side if you ask me.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with minimal carbonation. Strong dry bitter finish with a slight alcohol heat in the throat and aftertaste.

I can see why people recommend aging this a year and that is definitely what I will be doing with my other bottle in my cellar. Hopefully it takes down the heat and mellows out. Until then, I do not recommend drinking this fresh.

tr4nc3d, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of DanielDanza
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at the Shepherd and the Knucklehead. This is one hell of a beer. Perhaps the best of its kind I have ever had. Superb mouthfeel, thick and chewy but not overpowering at all, almost like drinking a very fine espresso. Chocolate malts and coffee are very apparent. Really a world class RIS.

DanielDanza, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of njmoons
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An awesome beer. I won't go into too much detail on the particulars with over a 1000 reviews and an 'A' rating, but I had to add my high rating to the mix.

This is the rare big beer perfectly in balance. Not to sweet, and not to bitter.

A top 10 beer for me.

njmoons, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of PartyBear
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a cellar temperature 355ml bottle into a snifter.

A - Black as night in the colour with a thick creamy tan head. Pours incredibly thick.

S - Rich roasted malts, with an edge of alcohol. Dark chocolate, with strong espresso coffee. Smoked and woody. There is also an underlying fruitiness, dark fruits, blackberries, blackcurrents, and grapes. Definitely an awful lot to the aroma, surprisingly complex.

T - Like with the aroma, roasted malts are prominent, delivering a heavy smoked sweetness. The taste of dark chocolate is obvious like with all good Imperials. Roasted coffee beans, and bitter cocoa. The finish is smooth with a hint of bitterness, and a mild taste of alcohol.

M - Smooth, thick and heavy. The texture is slick and oily, with a warming quality.

D - A great Imperial Stout. I''m starting to really appreciate what Gerg Koch has achieved with Stone, there are some fantastic beers available from the brewery and this is one of the best. Their Imperial Russian Stout is smooth and aromatic, with a perfect balance of flavours. Definitely a beer that has to be savored. There will be a few of these going into my cellar.

PartyBear, Aug 23, 2009
Photo of wl0307
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from a very good Britain-based beer shop, "Beers of Europe", through on-line order. Coming in a light brown, 12 Fl. Oz. slim bottle, "Limited Spring 2008 Release" and "Enjoy By 01.01.2013"; served cool in Hapkin's branded flower bulb-shaped sniffer.

A: jet black in colour, the carbonation is low and the dark khaki frothy head lasts pretty well.
S: so deep and complex and oily, the aroma is initially thickly treacle-ish and roasty, but the flowery hop aroma never falls far behind as much as the sour hints of coffee syrup, vanilla chocolates, licorice, chillies and super sweet & fat black dates. A swirl brings up the bouquet of American hops as well as some settled alc., sweet walnuts and sweet tobacco. Overall the aroma is quite heavy as the back label warns, but it's still enticing and manageable probably thanks to a good balance.
T: upfront comes a lubricating swallow of sweet black malts, treacle, sweet roast walnuts and black prunes, leading towards a lively aromatic flavour as of Chinese roasted walnut-date cake topped (bizarrely) with a little chocolate shaving; the creamy yet increasingly dry and bitter aftertaste of aromatic flowery hops replaces the fruitiness, roastiness, and creamy malts, rendering a truly chewy and surprisingly spicy mouthfeel to last until the very end along with a faint suggestion of banana-oil esters. A faint burn of alc. concludes each sip, but only just.
M&D: creamy soft on the carbonation, fulsome on the flavour while the alc. treads elegantly as a much lighter stout. I disagree with the back label's statement, as I don't feel any guilt/sin while tasting the ale, but I think it's to do with how mellow this bottled ale has turned into in less than a year's time~~ Compared with the other American RIS tasted recently (incl. Great Divide's Yeti, Flying Dog's Imperial Russian Porter, Left Hand's RIS, and Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout), I find this one the most balanced amongst them all, as the hops seem to have melted in the magical mixture. In many ways this is not unlike a balanced English RIS added with a bit more hop aroma+flavour - highly enjoyable.

wl0307, Aug 23, 2009
Photo of Sweasty
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an inky black. Light tries in vain to penetrate the blackness. Its an act in futility. Crowning the blackness is a dark khaki head. The head falls to a ring, but leaves plenty of lace down the glass.

The aroma packs a wallop. Solid coffee and dark chocolate. Plenty of black strap molasses present as well. A light bit of fruitiness - black currents - rounds things out. As the beer warms noticeable solvent alcohol aromas show up as well.

The flavor is equally impressive. Loads of coffee waft over the tongue. Plenty of dark chocolate is present as well. Molasses soaked coffee beans and a hint of liquorice seem to round out the middle. As the beer warms up, the alcohol starts to show up. The finish packs plenty more roast, as well as a bit of a lingering herbal hop note.

The mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. The beer coats the tongue in velvety bliss. The carbonation is light but more than adequate for the job.

Man oh man is this one epic brew. Its a sipper to be sure. Loads of complexity await each delicious sip. Its very easy drinking upfront. The alcohol seems almost non existent. AS the beer warms up, the alcohol becomes much more prevalent. The last few sips definitely have an alcohol bite. All in all though this is still one incredible brew.

Sweasty, Aug 23, 2009
Photo of wknight167
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an intriguing, opaque black, with a slow forming one finger, beige head that doesn't stick around very long. The lacing stays.

S: Burnt coffee, and roast malts jump out. Hint of molasses.

T: Smoky, highly roasted coffeee is the first thing that comes to mind. Starts with a molasses like malty sweetness thats turns to a dark, bitter chocolate in the finish.

M: Low carbonation. Thick and deliciously syrupy.

D: Surprisingly high considering its thick and robust flavors.

wknight167, Aug 22, 2009
Photo of Tomas77
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance-Deep brown almost black. Opaque. Small but thick creamy tan foam capping the beer underneath. Nice lace.
Aroma-Roasted coffee and chocolate followed by dark fruit and alcohol. Very complex.
Flavor-Dark fruit more closer to the front along with rich, sweet malt of roasted coffee(almost burnt, maybe tarry) with dark cherries and vanilla in there as well. Alcohol is evident throughout but is not hot. Nice balance between malt and hop. Hop bitterness in the finish but does not linger. Subdued roast bitterness in the finish also.
Mouthfeel-Full body. Chewy. Velvety feeling coats the tongue. Strong but smooth alcohol warmth. Medium carbonation. Dry finish.

Tomas77, Aug 22, 2009
Photo of fiver29
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07 vintage on tap pours a pitch black with some aroma - mostly a smell of hops. Has a nice head that laces the glass well. Complex hops and dark roast lend to a medium mouthfeel with a smooth roasty taste and long hop finish. I was a little surprised how the hops played a role in this. Will be interesting to try different years down the road. Nice brew.

fiver29, Aug 21, 2009
Photo of Hojaminbag
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A super dark color that I won't even call dark brown, it is just black. Three fingers of brown head that has good retention and leaves lots of great, sticky lace patterns on my glass.

The aroma is one that I would call intensely fruity for a stout, with notes of dark currents and dates. A big roasted aroma is there also, with coffee mixed. Alcohol is definitely noticeable.

Stone Russian Imperial Stout's intense flavors match the aroma pretty well. It is still a fruity stout with currents and dates, but the roasted flavors are equally (if not more) powerful in the flavor. I notice a note of vanilla in there also. First comes fruits, then a touch of vanilla and the roasted flavors. In the finish coffee comes through and is paired with some hop bitterness. A touch of alcohol is in there too. The aftertaste features mostly choclate and roasted malt.

The mouthfeel is creamy, thick, full, great for the style. It seems to coat the roof of your mouth, but still maintains a moderate amount of carbontion.

Overall a very good stout, one that I have tried numerous times and only reviewed now. Great for the price too.

Hojaminbag, Aug 20, 2009
Photo of bobjonesSD
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Ah the Stone IRS. Despite living in San Diego I had yet to try this one - I stopped by a small liquor store in Del Mar and noticed they had a pretty reasonable selection of craft brews including several bottles of this. Having looked for it before at Bevmo and been rebuffed I decided to give it a try.

I was in general quite pleased with this beer - poured form the bottle into a delirium noel snifter. I particularly liked the nice thick mouthfeel and creaminess. Altogether a very nice beer.

bobjonesSD, Aug 20, 2009
Photo of jdskinns
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 and 2009 back to back in Aug. 2009

Pours black with no transparency and a brown fizzy head that quickly goes away. Smell is as expected with a nice roasted smell with hints of coffee and chocolate.

Taste for 2008. Much more mellowed out than the 2009. Very smooth with no alcohol burn. It has definitely lost some taste with the age on it, but has gained a smoothness that makes it much easier to drink.

Taste for 2009. This is awesome! Everything(roasted malts, hops, chocolate and coffee tastes) is very present. This has a lot going on fresh, what a RIS should taste like IMO.

Mouthfeel is typical for a bigger stout I would say, meaning there is a sticky, lingering body to it rather than a crisp, watery feeling. A great beer all around.

jdskinns, Aug 20, 2009
Photo of ralree
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: Completely black, nice lacing, small 1-finger head.

S: Vanilla, yeast, caramel, brown sugar.

T: Smokey like a campfire, brown sugar has a nice sweetness, bitter hop flavor is very strong - very fresh. Alcohol is strong, but manageable.

M: Thick and syrupy, heavy body. Oily after swallowing. Carbonation low, as it should be for the style.

D: Hard to put down as its very thick and filling. Strong flavors make it hard to drink lots of.

ralree, Aug 20, 2009
Photo of botham
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the brewpub in Escondito. pours pitch black with faint amber highlights and little to no head.

aroma is rich and roasted with undertones of earthy, smokey, roasted malts. a bit of vanilla plays off of the roasted malt. a bit of coffee shows as well as the brew warms a bit. concentrated and rich in the nose.

taste is roasted and a bit earthy with some alcoholic sharpness. chocolate and a bit of coffee with some vanilla as well. nicely composed with a very rich and warming profile.

mouthfeel is full bodied, rich and warming. just what a good RIS should be on the palate.

drinkability is good. the alcohol is apparent, but not overpowering. a solid RIS through and through. cheers!

botham, Aug 20, 2009
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 7,212 ratings.