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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,359 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,359
Reviews: 2,614
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 614
Gots: 1,681 | FT: 91
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,359 | Reviews: 2,614 | Display Reviews Only:
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
2.99/5  rDev -31.1%
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
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
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
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
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
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
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
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

Photo of pd360
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a delight, enjoyed on tap as part of the Novare Res 12 Stouts After Christmas. Dark, rich, thick and complex this was a very enjoyable beer. The alcohol warmed me right up and it felt like dark chocolate hot cocoa. My wife ordered a Young Chocolate Stout (also on tap) and trying a sip of it after the Stone made it taste like Yoo-Hoo. This was the closest beer I have tasted to the elusive Kate the Great.

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

Flying Saucer had 2007 Stone IRS on tap. I knew it was going to be a long night immediately. There was no way I could pass up on this beer. I ordered myself one and sat there for a moment, just staring at the black, beautiful color of the beer. The aroma reached my nose from a distance. I sat there for a few good minutes, just smelling the beer. I'm sure the people around me thought I was crazy, but the beertenders knew what I was up to. One of them came up to me and said, "enjoy it while you can, cause it will be gone soon."
Hesitantly, I took the first sip and sank into catatonia.

Great appearance, great aroma, great taste, drink it while you can!

Photo of BlackHaddock
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown botle containing 1 pint and 6 fl oz. Spring 2009 release, drank Jan 2010. Poured into a Westmalle chalice and my huge 'Judas' tulip.

Looked very impressive, dark, black in fact jet black. The head was a full tan coloured head covering on both glasses.

The aroma was all darkness, roasted coffee, toasted malts and dark chocolate.

The taste followed the smell to the letter. The ground coffee was the most forward of the flavours, it also stayed the longest in the aftertaste. The alcohol content began to arrive towards the end of the moutfeel and was more prominent as the beer warmed.

Really enjoyed this beer, most likely the best beer from the USA I've had so far. Can't remember what score I gave Ten FIDY, but this is better in my opinion.

Photo of Moonraker7
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark black, head is a brownish tan color. Doesn't get much darker than this.

S: Burnt, roasted malts, chocolate, some sweetness and dark fruit, coffee. Alcohol seems dominant.

T: Very intense roasted coffee flavors and chocolate. Very sweet and malty as well, finishing off with some fairly bitter hops. Alcohol is hidden quite well once this beer warms up a bit.

M: Syrupy and creamy. Light carbonation.

D: The alcohol is hidden well and its very drinkable for a RIS. The sweetness is alittle much for my personal tastes, but that doesn't stop it from being a really solid beer. For the price, this may be one of the better RIS I've had.

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a bomber marked Spring 2009, to a snifter.

Pours an opaque black with a collar of loose mocha head, a few tiny bubbles. No lacing but leaves nice sudsy snail trails that slowly sink back into the body. Swirl it & see some sparkling gold.

Smells of dark fruit (dried cherries, prunes, cranberry), on the tart side, some roasty cocoa. Woody?

Taste is a sharp dark chocolate, tartness like dark fruit skins. Sharp alcohol, a tannic feel like dry red wine. Bitterness like coffee grounds.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, at first velvety smooth & then sharply alcoholic & bitter, nice aftertaste. Both comforting & a little confrontation, in turns. Heat waits & then comes hard.

Very enjoyable, big & tasty -- one is enough, but I ended up happily finishing the bomber. This was relatively young, & while it had some great things going for it, I'd love to have it aged to smooth out some of the rough edges. I'm sure the result would be fantastic.

Photo of oceanman
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

Pours near black all the way through with a thin head of deep reddish brown.

Rich cocoa aromas, leather, berries/plum, toasted marshmallows.

Prevailing roasted flavor, yet very smooth. Chocolate, coffee, faint soy sauce. Pleasant warming alcohol, has a bit of heat, but nicely creamy, especially as beer warms, gains complexity. Feels great - so smooth, yet lively.

A good model for imperial stouts to follow. Improves and comes into its own as it warms.

Photo of JohnL9013
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is a Stout to be reckoned with!

A: This stuff pours black and is literally viscous, like half-and-half. The head develops slowly since it's so viscous, and when it does form, it's the darkest brown I've seen. Oh, and the beer itself is jet black with zero transparency.

S: A complex nose dominated by coffee, molasses, and caramel. There's bittering hops in the background as well.

T: This is the best stout I've ever tasted. I remember trying Guinness Extra Stout last year and thinking what a nice, bitter stout it was, but that stuff is water compared to this. This fills in all the gaps Guinness is missing. There's a huge body to this beer, there's no other way to describe it. Big coffee flavor, very sweet, molasses, chocolate, and perfect bittering hops to balance...delicious! And really, really intense. Certainly, I had never had any beer like this before trying this stuff.

M: Ridiculously smooth. Surprisingly not dry for a stout, but very sweet and silky, creamily smooth. Ultra-low carbonation... just like drinking a good coffee or hot chocolate or something heavenly, but in beer form.

D: 10.5%? You can't even tell. Still very sweet and not the kind of thing you have more than one of.

My bottle was dated spring 2009 of this year. It mentions on the bottle that it's best left to "cellar" for a while. Well, I just drank this in November here and I'd say it was perfect.

EDIT: I am re-reviewing a second bottle of this beer. It's been almost three months since I reviewed the last one. Cellaring has changed this beer, believe it or not, and the most noticeable change was in its alcohol content, which seems to be quite high now.

A: Just as last time, this beer has the most epic appearance of any stout I've ever seen. Extremely viscous with a tall, thick head. The way this beer develops is amazing.

S: The smell is definitely better this time around...the beer is physically putting out more aromas than last time. There's a heavy roasted malt and chocolate nose.

T: The taste is in some ways an improvement but the alcohol content of this bottle seems to be higher than my last, whether due to the cellaring process or variations in the bottles. The flavors have smoothed out as I expected but the higher alcohol content almost masks some of the subtleties. Make no mistake, this is still phenomenal, and you can expect tons of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate, all of the highest caliber.

M: The mouthfeel has decreased in quality due to the increased alcohol content (this one burns going down, folks) but this is still one heck of a smooth stout, especially considering the ridiculously strong flavor profile.

D: This beer's drinkability is limited by its alcohol content. I love the taste of beer but I don't particularly like the feeling of getting drunk and make no mistake, after only a single bottle of this definitely-more-than-10.5%-beer, I was basking almost a little too much in beer nirvana. It goes down smooth but after you finish your bottle, I seriously doubt you will want anything else the rest of the night.

Photo of boatshoes
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in my first BIF from Brewfan. The 2007 vintage and my first experience with this beer. Thanks!

Appearance- Pours the usual opaque black with a half finger or so of dark brown, bubbly head that dies back immediately to a ring. Minimal lacing left as I drink and no noticeable beading.

Smell- Dominated by rich bitter chocolate and roasted malt. Just a hint of burnt coffee in the background. Smells quite rich and delicious.

Taste- Again, I find bitter chocolate to be in the forefront of the palate. Lots of rich roasted malt, coffee, and even a little bit of what I would call charcoal to round this one out in complexity as well. A whole lot of flavor swirling around but remarkably smooth after two years in the bottle.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Slick and heavy mouthfeel with just the right amount of minimal carbonation. Drinkability is very good for the style and the alcohol has smoothed out very well despite the high percentage.

Overall, a first rate RIS. Hope to try other vintages of this beer so I can see what it tastes like fresh and with more time on it.

Photo of pdoran10
3.43/5  rDev -21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Shared with my sister from a 22oz. bomber a few months ago, 2009 vintage. I think I've finally found my first beer in BA's top 100 that I don't like nearly as much as others.

The pour into a standard pint glass was exciting. Good carbonation produced about a half inch of rich head. The smell was complex, of roasted malt with a definite hop presence. This is one thing I love about Stone's beers, their aggressive hops! I am left disappointed by the taste. I get roasted malt right away, but then I am hit by a pretty biting alcohol taste. Surprised that this bothers me. I've enjoyed many bigger beers than this. Not impressed with the taste. Maybe with some aging and mellowing...

Anyways, mouthfeel was solid. Good consistency for a imperial stout. Feels solid and not sticky in your mouth. Drinability was not good. I could taste biting alcohol and it made me hesitant to want more than one glass.

Photo of madbrewer9
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost black, semi opaque with reddish highlights at the edges. Starts off with a nice dark tan head that dissapates quickly. Tiny bit of lacing, good legs.
Aroma is alchohol and a buttery sweetness that fades almost immediatley. Some molassas also.
Taste is a lot of sweet malt, with a touch of coffee, dark fruit and bitter chocolate to balance the sweetness. Just a hint of hop bitternes.
Med bodied, finishes almost slighty sweet with a small lingering bitterness that kicks in afterward.
Very drinkabale beer considering the style and strength.

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

Poured from 22oz bottle into Globe Glass.

A. Poured a thick almost 1 finger dark tan head. Color is pure black. Not much head retention, and very little lacing.

S. Coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, alcohol.

T. Coffee, roasted malt, smokiness. Some sweetness, alcohol. Pretty smooth and delicous. The high ABV is pretty well hidden.

M. Has a creamy mouthfeel. Medium-full bodied. Faint lingering sweetness.

D. This is a highly drinkable Imperial Stout. Goes down very easy, and is incredibly smooth. A great RIS.

Photo of r0nyn
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. 2009 release.

Looks thick and appetizing just out of the bottle and into the glass, with typical stout opacity that's just completely inky black. Not too much of a head, just a few centimeters high and colored a light creamy caramel. Leaves a fair amount of lacing. Smell is a smoky mix of coffee and dark chocolate with subtle hints of fruitiness.

The initial sip has a bit of maltiness to it, followed by the coffee flavorings evident in the smell. There's an interesting mix of bitterness, combining the coffee and dark chocolate twang with some hoppy character towards the middle. Finish has a very slight alcoholic twinge, which surprised me given the 10.50% ABV of this stout. The aftertaste is lightly bitter, quite pleasant. Mouthfeel is nice and full-bodied, not too much carbonation. Went down smooth and easy.

Drinkability is quite good for a stout of this caliber. The alcohol is masked well and it was a smooth ride from start to finish. Overall, a very, very good RIS, something I'd definitely revisit.

Photo of BeerCon5
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours almost black in color with a good amount of foamy tan head.

The scent is of roasted coffee, molasses and some alcohol notes.

The taste is of some fruit, fairly sweet molasses, roasty grains, coffee and a bit of chocolate. There are also some notes of caramel and noticeable alcohol.

Full bodied, very thick and chewy, adequate carbonation.

This was very tasty and flavorful, pretty easy to drink though very filling.

Photo of punkrkr27
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'03 bottle shared at January '07 metro Detroit tasting. Black pour with a small loose brown head. Big, sweet, fruity, coffee aroma. Lots of coffee flavor with lots of alcohol, raisin, dates and brown sugar. The body is sticky and full with a nice alcohol warming.

Photo of Luk13
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber many thanks to Hogtownharry! Dark black pour with thin veil of brown-reddish head. Aroma is so thick and malty, rich roasted grain, heavy molasses, and a bit of chocolate and some plums. Taste is very rich, molasses and ripe fruit, quite sweet well hidden alcohol, don't feel the advertised bitterness either. Palate is very chewy, heavy and absolutely great.

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

A- Evil dark black, solid throughout, with a thick brown head that stayed atop the whole time with excellent lacing

S- Cherries and chocolate with a cookie dough scent and, of course, the smoke

T- Lots and lots of chocolate and some smoke. It's sweeter than most RIS...very tasty

M- Thick and smooth, very creamy, with a great aftertaste

D- This is the best RIS I've ever had...period

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,359 ratings.