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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.

6,668 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,668
Reviews: 2,569
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 9.43%
Wants: 488
Gots: 1,420 | FT: 79
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: 6,668 | Reviews: 2,569 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mattster


4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Opened 22 ounce bomber bottle of 2008 release, poured into Nonic glass.

Pours a thick yet low head of ½" which slowly breaks to a thin layer of lace across top of glass. Some bubbles rising to top of midnight black brew. Light lace on side of glass and some "legs" to this brew.

Smell is of dark coffee, chocolate and slightly sweet malts. Taste is very nice with subtle coffee and strong dark chocolate. Nice malt with dryer finish. Full mouth feel; Bubbles are light however a slight bit of heat on back of palate slightly detracts from the drink ability.

All in all, a really great brew. I will buy more of these and set them aside for a while.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2008 06:39:58 | More by mattster
Photo of turbine2475


4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jkane101 for this trade!

A- Pours jet black with a dense, two finger, mocha head that disipated slowly leaving a heavy lace.
S - Coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, some dark fruits, and a little touch of grain.
T - Dark coffee, chocolate, bitter fruit, burnt sugar, and toasted grain. All in very good balance!
M - Chewy with a low carbonation and a coating that compliments the balance.
D - Great RIS that has an excellent balance. I wish this was avaliable in Texas, but until that time I will just have to trade for more!!

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2008 04:59:05 | More by turbine2475
Photo of DHGranstrand


4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black and viscous with a nice dark brown head. Nice head retention with good lacing.

Smells of chocolate, coffee and malt.

Strong black coffee, bittersweet chocolate and malt.

Excellent viscous mouthfeel.

This is really an excellent, well-balanced tasty stout. Nothing really stands out on its own but it really is very smooth and drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2008 01:26:51 | More by DHGranstrand
Photo of gford217


4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber courtesy of leftmindedrighty poured into a snifter.

A: Pours pitch black with a dense one finger head which dissipates pretty quickly leaving a swirl of tiny bubbles on the top. Lacing is excellent.

S: Smell is fairly typical RIS, with roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and some dark fruit. It seemed a little boozy and on the bitter/burnt side of things but still pretty nice.

T: Big roasted malt flavor up front which quickly gives way to a nice blend of roasted coffee, chocolate and a nice raisiny fruit sweetness. The aftertaste is bitter with an extended coffee flavor along with some hop bitterness.

M: Fairly thick mouthfeel and low carbonation leaves the mouth coated in creamy goodness.

D: This is a definitely a great RIS and it almost lives up to the hype. I probably wouldn't put it in my top 3 for the style but I would actively seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2008 01:27:26 | More by gford217
Photo of Avryle

New York

3.83/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The '08s finally made it to Albany by way of Half Time. Hooray!

A- Uber-dark. No light's getting through. Thick mocha-colored head dissipates to a nearly thin, solid cap

S- Roast & coffee. Not picking up a whole heck of a lot in the nose... a bit of booze in the background.

T- Roasted coffee beans & cocoa powder with a pleasing bitter hop finish. Booze on the finish as well.

M- Thick. Coats the mouth & leaves a tingle on the lips.

D- Give it a year or so & it'll mellow out & be vastly improved. This is one brew that benefits greatly with a bit of age on the bottle.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2008 23:25:36 | More by Avryle
Photo of SurlyDuff


4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Waited for a fairly chilly night to crack this.

Pours black with a tan head. Thick like motor oil. Head eventually falls away, just leaving sticky lace.

Huge malty chocolate and coffee aroma.

Deep dark coffe and bittersweet chocolate, then it falls away into a sweet gooey chocolate.

Alcohol presence is disguised by rich dark fruits. Plum and fig. Honey and molassas in there too, syrupy.

Mouthfeel is good, but theres some lactic milky chocolate notes that form an uncomfortable saliva syrup (sorry for being discript). I generally like my Imperials to be a bit dryer and shorter in the finish, just to keep the drinkability up.
It does go down smooth and with the alcohol covered up well, makes for an okay drinker. It's just not 100% what I look for in a russian imperial stout.

I'm reviewing this against others in the style, and am not falling pray to BA's IIPA/IStout/Quad syndrome. I'm not going to rate this against a Golden Ale or a hefe, but against other Russian Imperial Stouts. It's good, but it's just way to syrupy and cloying to be an A+

Obviously, I recommend this to anyone who hasn't tried!

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2008 00:15:51 | More by SurlyDuff
Photo of PhxHorn


3.75/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, with minimal tan head. A little thinner than some RIS's. Smells of coffee and chocolate. Tastes of coffee and chocolate, plus some cherry and malt flavors in there. Overall, not as intense as most RIS's I've tried; a nice balance of flavor, but just not that much of it. A little disappointing. Not as good as, say, Abyss, Yeti, or Brooklyn, or even Bourbon County. Closer to a straight stout. Being a bit lighter, you could finish the whole bomber and not feel like you were stuffed. A fine beer, but flavorwise it's a very middle of the road offering from a brewery that usually delivers high intensity.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2008 03:55:54 | More by PhxHorn
Photo of pheggeseth


4.85/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottle poured into my Darkness snifter

A: no head or lacing, bababablack, just kind of "plops" into the glass

S: chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla bean, nutmeg

T: toasted malt, chocolate, caramel, very similar to the smell

M: not too thick, not too thin, great carbonation, coating though

D: strong, but smooth, this was aged perfectly

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2008 02:58:34 | More by pheggeseth
Photo of Flashy


3.68/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchsed at Town and Country Liquors, W. Springfield, MA 4/08.

A- Pours beautiful, laces down the side of the glass. Dark as a beer can be.

S- Soy sauce, alcohol.

T - Kinda sour. Soy Sauce, smokey alcohol up front. Slight burn on the way down. Not world class, don't get it.

M - Thick, little thin in the after taste. Expected more.

D - I like most Stone beers, tough think they are a bit over rated (see smoked porter). I love RIS and this is just above average. Surprised to find this near the top BA 10. Makes you wonder.

Serving type: bottle

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2008 00:12:44 | More by Flashy
Photo of boston2bburg


4.08/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours darker than a black steer's tukus on a moonless night. Attractive caramel cap of fine bubbles which thin out a bit but gravitate to the edge of the glass where they leave their mark copiously.

Aroma is roasted and toasted malts and some earthy hops.

Big and bold, imbibing this beer feels more like eating chocolate birthday cake with caramel icing, at least in body. The taste exhibits some of this, but leans more heavily on toast and nuts. Starchy and bready on the finish, the mouthfeel is silky up front.

Butter presents itself on the nose and palate as the beer warms, and with it a more prominent booziness. And this one will have ample time to warm, as it's a very slow sipper. No room for seconds; more like dessert for two.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2008 23:58:29 | More by boston2bburg
Photo of Bejogle


2.2/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a snifter.

This beer is opaque black in every sense of the word, with a really impressive, pillowy tan head. The head subsides very quickly, however, and leaves only slight lacing.

The smell was not very interesting really, smelled pretty much like a Guinness if Guinness made malt liquor, lots of hints of fusel alcohol.

The taste was worse than the smell, unfortunately. There is no presence of chocolate or coffee flavors at all in this beer as there are in other RIS'. It tasted pretty much like a mixture of cough syrup and the fusel alcohol i mentioned before. I don't understand where people are getting the complexity.

Mouthfeel was good, thick and oily like a RIS should be, but the taste ruined the experience and therefore the drinkability.

I was hoping it was just a bad bottle but I bought another one and it had the same exact problems. I really really wanted to enjoy this beer because of its high rating, but I'm starting to think it's rated so highly simply because its a seasonal from a reputable brewery and because its so high in ABV. I won't be buying this again, sticking to Old Rasputin.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2008 13:24:16 | More by Bejogle
Photo of pershan


4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a dark, evil, black with a thin brown head into a 12 oz pilsner glass. The smell was of alcohol and roasted malt. The initial flavor was of roasted malt, with a slight black-currant sweetness that faded quickly into an alcoholic, burnt toast and slightly hoppy finish. Fairly low carbonation gave this beer a viscous mouthfeel, but there was still very nice lacing down the inside of the glass. Another fine beer from Stone.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2008 02:08:53 | More by pershan
Photo of calebmills

West Virginia

4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First of all this is the 2nd best stout i have tried. second to the rogue chocolate stout. This stuff is amazing i would recommend trying it just as much as any other stone beer. This stuff is very complex and spicy in a way with the high alcohol content but it wont overwhelm you as much as some of the lighter stone beers when i say lighter i mean that this has the highest alcohol that im aware of from stone but it doesnt seem as potent as a double bastard. anyways this stuff pours thick black and has a thick creamy head that tops off the amazing apearance and smells like coffee malt hops and some chocolate. And tastes like this also with some complexities i cant identify but id like to have a couple more bottles to really say for sure. This is heavy stuff for me i dont need more than one bomber at a time to enjoy it and trust me if you like stouts you will enjoy and probably love this one.I only wish i had the money at the time to buy another bottle or two.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2008 23:30:50 | More by calebmills
Photo of MoJoe


4.63/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Bomber Bottle

A- Pours out a thick, dirty oil black with a dense, dark tan head that leaves a decent amount of lace on the glass.

S- The alcohol is very present along with the scent of roasted malts. A wonderfully complex aroma. Dark roasted coffee, dark fruit, taffy amd vanilla.

T- The sweetness of this beer is perfectly matched with the bitterness. Along with everything that the nose gave you there is also black chocolate, licorice, carmel and toasted oats. The alcohol was again very evident.

M- Very full bodied. The bitterness of the dark roasted malts gives way to there sweetness then the bittering/flavor hops take control.

D- Love this Beer! Wonderfully complex and balanced.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2008 00:31:13 | More by MoJoe
Photo of macster


4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage. Pours a viscous, thick jet black color. Completely opaque with some burgundy highlights when held up to the light. Pour initially forms a hefty 2" dense tan head which gradually fades to a wispy coating of foam. Some spotty streaks of lacing as glass is consumed.

Fairly assertive aromas of espresso coffee beans, dark roasted malts, molasses, dark choclate and dark dried fruits waft up from the snifter.

Mouthfeel was moderately full and chewy. Seemed to become much fuller and smooth as the beer warmed.

Flavors were a tad more assertive than the aromas. Starts off on the sweet side with a firm blast of dark rum soaked raisins and figs, dark cocoa, molasses and vanilla. The mid-palate reveals a transformation to a slightly bitter side with notes of burnt malts, espresso coffee, baker's chocolate and a touch of spicy hops. Has a long and pleasant bittersweeet finish with a definitive alcohol warmth.

A solid and well done Russian Impy Stout.

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2008 16:12:22 | More by macster
Photo of GbVDave


4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 22oz bottle into two 20oz imperial pints. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

Spring 2008 release.

A: Pours a coal-like, pitch black color with a creamy, dark khaki, three finger head. Huge amounts of lace in the glass.

S: Interesting aromas of molassas, dark fruit, toffee, blackened malt, chocolate, cherry, coffee, and brown sugar.

T: The taste follows the smell very closely on this one. Take everything above and add charcoal, toasted oatmeal, bitter hops, and alcohol.

M: Surprisingly this starts a little on the thin side. However, as it warms it becomes thick and sweet while never losing it's bitter edge.

D: Good drinkability. I found this to be a tad on the overrated side, but it's very good.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2008 23:57:03 | More by GbVDave
Photo of AKBelgianBeast


4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good one for review #300! And just by chance too!
2008 vintage.

Pours impenetrably black with a huge tan ice cream head. A bit cold yet, but the nose is weaker than I had expected. What there is is roast and toast malt with some metallic copper alcohol smell. The roastiness comes out as it warms. A bit of coffee and slight hop fragrance. Taste is nice and smooth, roasty malts, coffee, vanilla, and alcohol come to mind, some dark dark malt flavors in here and a nice hop kiss on the finish. Not as hoppy as I would have expected for a stone brew, which is sort of refreshing as they tend to be a little bit obsessed, but still on the hoppy side (barely). A slight metallic astringency to it, and alcohol is a bit more pronounced than I would prefer. Vanilla flavor is apparent enough it has a bourbon aged hint in the middle. The alcohol heat is a bit strong fresh, but should mellow in just a year or two. Mouthfeel is good, but could be a touch more viscous, just a touch. Drinkability is good now, but will should vastly improve with just a little trip to the cellar. Overall a great imperial stout, maybe slightly overrated, but defenitely not one you want to pass up. It is certainly case in the cellar worthy..even if you are not! oh wait, different stone brew...

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2008 02:33:36 | More by AKBelgianBeast
Photo of DefenCorps


4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle poured into my Duvel tulip

A: Gorgeous pitch black with a dense brown two-finger head that recedes leaving a nice lacing. Picture perfect

S: A spicy note to start off with - is that the anise they talk about?I Behind that, there's chocolate, coffee, cream, roast, burnt and molasses in a beautiful balance

T: Roasted flavors followed up by a very well balanced chocolate and coffee. There's a definite nutty note to it. There's some spice to it too, almost a hoppy spice.

M: Full bodied, thick and delectable. The finish is a mild burnt bitter and very pleasant.

D: This one will do me in. It's a sipper and excellent for it's style.

**Edit 28 April 2013**
I'm drinking a bottle of the 06 IRS tonight, as I anticipate getting my hands on and drinking a bottle of the Espresso IRS later this week (hopefully)

The nose is pretty awesome. Mellow with anise spice, milk chocolate fudge, a great blend of roast and coffee, this does also have a mellow port-like oxidation, which lends a little bit of a red-wine character. The palate opens moderately sweet, with caramel, toffee, tobacco, anise up front, along with some medium-dark chocolate. This just might be heading over the hill, as I'm starting to get a wee bit of papery oxidation/ aged thinness, but it's barely on the threshold of perception (IMO). What this means, though, is that this beer is near its peak. Medium-full in body, moderately carbonated, this is smooth and fluid on the palate. A lingering grainy/roasty bitterness lingers, tempering the sweetness. Excellent. 4.5/4.25/4.25

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2008 00:08:23 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of steelscarab


4.78/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had my growler filled with the 2006-cellared brew of this at their brewery and I served it in my goblet.

Appearance: An immensely dark black colour, almost obsidian in nature. It poured with a half inch of mocha-coloured head which quickly dissipated. Moderate lacing did persist around the edges though. I would've given this a 5 if the head was retained more.

Smell: A smoky, sweet smell dominates the nose when smelling. A bit of coffee is present as well, but you primarily smell the roasted malts and alcohol.

Taste: Complexity! One can first detect many sweet things in this brew such as a bit of caramel, coffee, roasted malt, and some sort of earthy berry (perhaps raisin). This sweetness leads to a slight bitter smoky taste with a warming alcohol touch to it. An experience for any beer drinker!

Mouth: This brew holds amazing mouth-feel. It is smooth, creamy, and not too much carbonation. I'd say it's just perfect for the style and silky smooth for its alcohol content.

Drinkability: High drink-ability if you are into Imperial Stouts. This is definitely a sipping beer though, and probably not suited for active social gatherings. This may just be one of the best beers for a night in with the old woman and a marathon of CSI.

Serving type: growler

04-17-2008 07:15:00 | More by steelscarab
Photo of jockstrappy


3.9/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black color with a creamy tan head. Aromas noticed here are coffee and caramel with a little alcohol in there as well. Taste begins with a classic roasted coffee flavor and a small hop note up front, with a well-rounded balance of chocolate, caramel sweetness on the way back, and finishing with a pleasant alcohol warmth. This brew is pretty heavy....and drinks as such. Syrupy mouthfeel, and somewhat filling....that said, with a 10.8 ABV, one is plenty. Great beer after a nice meal.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2008 00:54:50 | More by jockstrappy
Photo of justinmartz


4.08/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a seidel. This is a big and heavy beer. The color is black like the universe at the beginning of time. The head is a sandy brown color with a diet Coke-like consistency. Audible head reduction: this is a noisy beer! The smell wasn't distinguishable from other fine stouts even though it claims anise and black currants. I don't know, maybe I have cerebral palsy, but I didn't notice those. At 10.8% ABV the alcohol was noticeable in aroma and taste. This beer would benefit from cellaring. Otherwise, it's a perfectly carbonated beer and one of the gnarliest stouts I've ever had.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2008 03:57:04 | More by justinmartz
Photo of RunawayJim

Rhode Island

3.85/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Pours a pitch black with a small dark tan head that lingers for a bit.

Smells of dark roasted coffee and roasted malts.

Taste was a little disappointing. There was a strong metallic taste to it that lasted throughout the bottle. Other than that, there were a lot of roasted coffee bitterness, some dark chocolate notes, and a slight hint of malty sweetness.

The beer was thick and a little oily in the mouth and quite drinkable for a 10.8% ABV beer. There was absolutely no taste of alcohol at all.

Regarding the metallic taste, it also seemed a little rough. I plan on picking up another one and aging it for a while to see how it comes out. I imagine it'll smooth out a bit and hopefully that metallic taste will go away.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2008 20:04:44 | More by RunawayJim
Photo of ElGrecoVerde


3.85/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Finally found this at a small shop by my house. 2008 edition, 10.8% abv.

Pours deep black with a dark brown, creamy head. Looks incredible.

The smell was a bit disappointing. Maybe I overhyped this one in my head. It had the usual roasted coffees and chocolates, but a strong bitter aroma as well. There was a fair amount of dark fruit in the nose as well.

The taste had a highly bitter blend of dark fruit, raisins and chocolate in it. I get images of the California Raisins in my head with each sip. Some roasted flavors try to get through, but the bitterness took over my mouth. Overall, however, it's fine as I love stouts, but I couldn't help feeling a bit let down.

This makes two highly rated Imperial Stouts that didn't exactly blow my socks off. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredible beer, and judging by other reviews, it must just not match my palate. But after being floored by a beer like Rogue Shakespeare Stout (which I realize is entirely different), I'm finding the Imperial Stouts fall behind in my book.

Still, and excellent beer, and I'll keep giving the style more chances.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2008 14:43:11 | More by ElGrecoVerde
Photo of Traquairlover


3.83/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22-oz bomber poured into tulips.

A = Deep mahogany, fluffy brown head, medium retention.

S = Chicory, sage, burnt coffee, angostino bitters, singed oak leaves, the smell of this honestly reminds me of the smell of campfires when I was scouting as a kid (though not as smokey). Very complex, but a little bitter.

T = Warm tastes of bitter chicory coffee ith a slight amount of creme de fraiche, sage, bitter herbs, long dry finish.

M = Creamy, full bodied, luscious full coating of the mouth. Perhaps a little too frothy, otherwise close to perfect mouthfeel.

D = Very good drinkability. I find the taste and smell a little more bitter than I personally prefer but for the style it is excellent. A good example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2008 17:44:09 | More by Traquairlover
Photo of 1759Girl


4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Maybe it's because I once tried to get a job repping Stone, or maybe it's just because they kick so much tail... but I have a huge respect for the company... They were the first ones to get me into IPAs, and still have my fave IPA. But, when the Russian Imperial Stout is on hand... everything else melts away and 1759Girl is in RIS Heaven.
Appearance> Dark as my beloved Guinness with a head the color of the Carnation chocolate malts that you used to get at baseball games. Thick head with great retention and lots of lacing.
Smell> dark chocolate and burnt sugar. oh baby.
Taste>my fave RIS and one that I hold others to in comparison. Sweet start, smoky intense stout taste, dry finish.
Mouthfeel> full, silky. Perfection
Drinkability>"Oh dang" yes, that was actually written in my notes.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2008 16:05:56 | More by 1759Girl
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 6,668 ratings.