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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

6,926 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,926
Reviews: 2,583
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 521
Gots: 1,510 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,926 | Reviews: 2,583 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ruckzuck
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Woo, so glad this is in GA now!

A - pours an opaque, smooth black body with a chocolaty head which dissipated somewhat quickly

S - that roasted chocolate malt is in full effect. Rich chocolate, coffee, hints of ABV, caramel, and syrup

T - again, a rich roasty mouthfeel. A real delight to drink. Dark chocolate is much more pronounced in the aftertaste, and it's awesome. The tiniest hints of hops are around, and there's sort of dark fruit taste up front. ABV really isn't that pronounced IMO. Of course the awesome coffee and caramel aromas show up in the taste to round this badboy out, and man oh man is it tasty

M - smoooth in the mouth. Luxurious body and just an all around a nice a feel. Excellent

D - wow, I was psyched to have this after realizing it was on sale here and so highly ranked, and I can see why it has the ranking it does. This is a hell of RIS. The taste and mouthfeel are amazing, and the ABV is well-hidden IMO. I could certainly drink another of these, although that's probably not the best idea. Anyway, I love this. Highly recommended, and I will be adding it to my winter standards

ruckzuck, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of craytonic
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a deep oil slick black.

Smell: Dark fruits, licorice, blackstrap molasses, coffee. No super-strong aromas.

Taste: Roast, malt, blackstrap molasses, licorice, brown sugar, some coffee and chocolate on the back end. Great hop balance. The alcohol is well hidden. Huge malt backbone, a little coco-ish.

Mouthfeel: Exceptionally smooth. Rich and thick. Not quite as heavy as I expected

Drinkability: Great beer, I will have to get some more. Goes down silky smooth, and, thankfully, the coffee is not overpowering. Great balance on the hops, and huge malt character. Excellent!

craytonic, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of waltonc
3.83/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thank you Stone for offering this in a 12 ounce bottle. Nice to see a brewer offering a super strong heavy beer in a smaller bottle than before, instead of the reverse. This has always been a favorite imperial stout of mine, though I didn't enjoy this year's serving as much as previous years. Perhaps my tastes have just changed? But it seemed like this was hoppier than years past. Maybe it just needs a little time to mellow out. But anyway, taste is deep dark roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and hop bomb levels of hoppiness. Gotta ding the taste for the out of whack hops. Mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and very nice. While I was once able to get through a whole bomber of this, I now struggle to get through a 12 ounce bottle.

Update: 2009 version seems to have corrected the hop bomb issue. If I were to review that version, the total score would be more along the lines of 4.35.

waltonc, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of gyllstromk
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours thin and nearly headless with weak lacing. Swirls like water. The body is a typical stout, opaque black.

Smell evokes Belgian yeasts, like a dark Belgian ale. There's licorice, chocolate, dark fruits, and a noticeable alcohol.

Taste begins with a carmel or brown sugar sweetness. Maybe I'm getting a trace of cinnamon. A smokey, coffee flavor follows.

The mouthfeel is thin as can possibly be for a stout, but is not unwelcome.

It's not as overpowering as your typical RIS, which improves drinkability.

gyllstromk, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of SShelly
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 release.

Pours a midnight black with a dark tan head that fades in <1 min. to a slight ring of lace.

Dark roasty aroma with a little sweetness.

Dark malty flavor with roast and choclate, very mildly bittered, with a pleasant sweet but not overdone aftertaste. leaves a little chocolate/cocoa on the tongue. A nice alcolhol warming sets in after the second or third swallow.

Overall it is a little sweeter than I would prefer but is an excellent example of the style, have had it before and will definetly drink one or five in the future.

SShelly, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of Jmamay22
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle is a 2008 release. I'm surprised I haven't rated this one yet. I've enjoyed Stone's IRS over several years at various ages. It has generally been a delight.

Pours a menacing black with a mocha colored head that fades to a thin collar. Smells of dusted cocoa, roasted malt, lightly of soy sauce and a generous helping of hops in typical Stone fashion. The soy sauce is less than pleasant, but plays a minor roll. Nonetheless it would be better without and something I haven't picked up until more recent versions of this brew.

Strong cocoa and dark chocolate flavors dominate, but give way to a growing alcohol presence and firmer mouthfeel. A definitive finish consists of a kick of hops, roasted malt, coffee and alcohol. The flavors of sweet chocolate are nicely maintained by the hops and roasted flavors to strike a balance. Alcohol remains embedded within the beer rather than acting as a defining component making this an enjoyable sipper on a cold night.

Jmamay22, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of rtepiak
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

had it in nyc in 2007...

the pour is beautiful. black opaque with a nice chocolate head... like that picture above. decent retention. chocolate, roasted malt, and booze. taste is lightly acidic. some molasses quality but not the thickest. quite warm going down. delightful. a soft nail of chive bitter and candy sweet at the end. would love to have this one from a cask.

in 2008,

had it again about a year later not as appetizing. playdo malt yeast. yeast protein gave the beer sort of a overly dough but synthetic creamy quality like elmer's glue.

oct of 09,

malt character more consistent this time around. cognac warm sweetness. toasty chocolate and coffee. nice body.

rtepiak, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of LennyV
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown/black color into my Maudite snifter. Minimal head, no lacing. This was from a keg that was aged for about a year.

Smells like coffee with an little alcohol.

Tastes wonderful. Initially I taste coffee with some chocolate. It finishes very dry with some warming alcohol. I can't believe this brew has an 11% abv! It is so well hidden that it could be dangerous.

Full thick body with a small amount of carbonation.

I don't generally like stouts but this is a fantastic sipper. I can't wait to try the bottle version for comparison.

LennyV, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of Rainintheface
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle

A: dark black with a one finger tan head that lingers but a short while

S: dark fruits, coffee,cherries a little licorice and boozy

T: roasted coffee, dark fruit/raisins and alcohol soaked cherries

M: full bodied, smooth and viscous. a little dry with a warming alcohol finish

D: very drinkable, although it is a bit of a sipper.

Rainintheface, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of hobbes2112
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle.

Pours a midnight black with a medium level deep brown head. Pretty significant lacing. Smell is all dark. Dark chocolate, dark malt, dark caramelized sugars, alcohol (ok that one isn't dark.) I drank this one very slowly in 4 small glass increments. The first was pretty cold, possibly too cool. That was a much different, smaller beer than the later and warmer cups. I'd recommend this one warm only...you are missing out on the best parts when it is cold. I like the coffee notes that come with warmth. Mouthfeel is great, really astringent aftertaste that screams bitter cocoa with hops. I have a hard time giving out drinkability scores above 4 for beers this strong (in the alcohol sense) because you really can't drink them in a session manner.

Top notch.

hobbes2112, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of Goregazm
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5


Appearance: BLACK. It's not overly thick like oil, but more like having the consistancy of grape juice. Has a dark brown/light black one-finger head which lasts a good minute or two and leaves nice foamy lacing on the glass.

Smell: Dark malts, chocolate, toffee and caramel up front. Has a thick scent which gives off a burnt, toasty smell. Bittersweet overall.

Taste: A delicious malty blend of semisweet chocolate, roasted coffee beans, dark fruits, and a little cream. Very rich and thick. For the most part it's sweet, with a slight bitterness underneath.

Mouthfeel: Creamy with a milky feel on the palate. In the mouth it feels rich and thick like a milkshake. Aftertaste is bitter, with a coffee taste up front.

Drinkability: This is a phenominal stout beer that ever fan of the style needs to try. Drink this while hanging out, eating dinner, or during any other time when your kicking back. If you haven't had this yet, don't waste any more time. Go out and find some now.

Goregazm, Nov 15, 2008
Photo of davey
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz in a pint glass. Picked it up at By The Bottle in Vancouver, WA. I've had this brew a couple times before, and it never disapoints. Appearance is dark as pitch, no light is getting through this one. Good two finger head. Smells delicious! Alcohol does not stand out. Coffee flavor with nutty aftertaste with a hint of vanilla. Not too thick, just right. Close to room temperature. One of the most drinkable imperial stouts I've had. I would definitely recommend this beer to anyone who is looking for a first time imperial stout!
P.S. This is my first review.

davey, Nov 14, 2008
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into snifter glass.

A: Deep, dark mahogany with a finger of dark tan head that left exquisite lacing.

S: Smoke, malt, sweet dried fruits.

T: The first impression when the beer is on the cold side is a smoky, peaty flavor that lingers long after swallowed. As it warmed, a sweetness appeared that was undetectable when cold. Aftertaste reminds me of smoky, sweet beef jerky, but in the most pleasant way possible. This is a wonderful late-night pleasure that I plan to keep on hand at all times.

M: medium-heavy viscosity with a likable stickiness.

D: Too rich to enjoy more than two or three snifters worth. However, those two or three are massively delicious and satisfying.

FACEMEAT, Nov 13, 2008
Photo of DoctorDog
2.38/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle into a mug. Labeled as "Limited Spring 2008 Release."

A- Black, completely opaque in appearance. Pours with massive, cascading brown/tan head, which fades slowly to a thin ring, leaving moderate lacing.

S- Hoppy burned alcohol.

T- Hoppy burned alcohol. No coffee or chocolate notes to be found. The astringent equivalent of letting an aspirin sit on your tongue for a few seconds before swallowing. Excessively drying.

M- Thin and watery.

D- Between the alcohol content, poor taste, and excessive drying, this one gets low marks in my book.

Future outlook: Very disappointed in this one. Doesn't look like this one is my cup of meat.

DoctorDog, Nov 13, 2008
Photo of williamherbert
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a thick brew of cardboard brown head. Some middling watery lace.

Thick and soupy aroma. Heavy alcohol. Smell of dates and raisins. Burnt malt w/hints of black coffee. Really strong and good.

Heavily burnt malt like coffee. Dark chocolate like charred cookies. Heavy tobacco. Really rich and dark.

Smooth, like thick motor oil. Rich and viscous. Not for the weak. Really roasted and dark. Delicious and challenging.

williamherbert, Nov 12, 2008
Photo of caminiti
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As with all the Stones, outstanding. Poured as you would expect, dark with a thin orangish lacing that reported your sips all the way to the end along the inside of the pint glass. Tasted a bit bitter and coffee like, perhaps a bit lighter than the 2007 version, but then again I have not let the bottle age. Outstanding, and like me, better with age.

caminiti, Nov 11, 2008
Photo of Cresant
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured this 22 oz. brown bottle into a snifter. This was the 2006 vintage. Minimal head with a ring of dark tan head. Opaque dark, dark brown with ruby highlights. This one had legs when swirled.

Smell was brown sugar and raisins. Moist, freshly baked brown bread. Some alcohol in the aroma.

Taste was roasted bitterness. Chocolate and dates. Steely. Mellow and rich. Very nice to savor over the evening. Well hidden alcohol. The roast and hops were just enough to accentuate the rich malts and sweetness.

Mouthfeel was smooth and velvet-like. Wow. Minor carbonation, just right.

Cresant, Nov 09, 2008
Photo of Baileyuk
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another special at Uptown Grille.

A - Little to no head from the getgo with also little lacing. Perfect color between black and brown.

S - A sweetness comes of the nose giving of almost a raisin smell. Burnt malts are also present.

T - Again a sweet dark fruit like raisins is presnt. A lot of character and complex tastes. Malt is prominent and nicely done.

M - Carbonation perfect, felt really goodgoing down. Iwould probably not drink too many of these due to style preference but if this were my style I would be all over this.

Another great Stone brew.

Baileyuk, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of gearbike
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a treat to have an exceptional beer like this on tap within a bike ride from home.
I typically do not get any big flavors from stone beers before tasting. They tend to smell very neutral.
This is truly imperial. Just the right amount of hops, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol. Not even close to over the top.

gearbike, Nov 04, 2008
Photo of imperialbigswig
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Clearly this is one of the most revered brews on the market, so admittedly I was holding it to a very high standard.
A- beautifully thich black and rich, motoroil.
S- dark chocolate, bakers chocolate and fresh coffee grinds.
T- It's all there, chocolates coffess, that roast flavor that the RISs have.
M-Oh yeah, rich thick chewy and sticky.
D-1 bottle tops, but lovin every last sip.

imperialbigswig, Nov 02, 2008
Photo of erikm25
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This concoction pours a thick blackened molasses. Held up to the light I was unable to find even the slightest nod to any other hues. An aggressive pour yielded a minimal burnt caramel colored head. Lacing is slight yet present to the end. If you could pour a midnight starless and moonless sky into a glass this is what it would look like.

S: Aromas are oats coupled with a subtle mixture of dark cherries, figs, and plums. Rich chocolate sweetness appears towards the back but overall this aroma can be described as honey warm. Despite the high ABV the alcohol appears instantly and fleetingly like an apparition.

T: Rich toffee chocolate and malt tastes. Additionally a sting of hops hits the tongue. Barley coupled with a pinch of coffee and sprinkled with brown sugars. Complex balance of creamy cocoa richness and grapefruit laced licorice. Chocolate becomes even more apparent as it warms. The alcohol is only present after it drops the bodies temperature down a bit.

M: A creamy rich viscousness that plasters its flavors all around the mouth. A flat out treat.

D: Perfect beer with some warming fuzzy music. Drinkability is a double edged sword. In a perfect world I would love to make this a regular habit but it is one I will save for special occasions. Worth picking up and holding on to for down the road. Stone always delivers.

erikm25, Nov 02, 2008
Photo of WYVYRN527
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Might be my new favorite. I opened a 22 oz. bottle and poured it into my trusty pint glass. Black with a very thin head that dissapates almost immediately. The aroma is soft, and chocolate and roasted grains shine through. On the palate, espresso, bitter chocolate, and vanilla strike with force. The hops aren't very present until the very end, where it has a very mild, dry finish. This medium bodied beast could be a session stout, even though it has strength and body that rivals a Sherman tank. I love this beer, and it's unfortunate that it isn't sold here in the Minnesotan tundra.

WYVYRN527, Nov 01, 2008
Photo of daythree16
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into snifters and shared with my wife. The bottle indicates that it is from the Spring '07 release. It pours a jet black with a one-finger brown head.

There are aromas of rich chocolate and dark fruit, chiefly ripe figs. Taste is mostly chocolate and caramel up front. Some figs and other dark fruit are present as well. As the beer warms, some coffee bitterness begins to develop.

Mouthfeel is thick and silky, and it coats the tongue on each sip. The beer is super rich, and coupled with the high ABV, this one is definitely a sipper.

daythree16, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of Reagan1984
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What a great beer to come in from the cold with.... Poured almost a full black in color with a thick creamy tan head. This remained floating on top of the beer for quite some time before slowly receding back into the glass.

Aroma was a nice combination of both chocolate notes and some vanilla bean.... Black licorice?

Flavor was very nice and only got better as the beer warmed to close to room temp. Chocolate notes up front, then some cinnamon. Slowly faded to a vanilla bean or vanilla extract note (very subtle) and again a get a slight touch of black licorice..

Mouth feel is medium to full bodied and silky creamy in texture.

I just think this is a great beer.

Reagan1984, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of danielharper
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: This thing is so dark you'd probably need a photospectrometer to differentiate its color from that of the Bootes Void... and yeah, I was waiting for the opportunity to use that tortured metaphor. Suffice to say it's extremely deep black, completely opaque, Has a tiny head that dissipates but leaves a touch of lacing regardless. It's not quite as intense as Dark Lord, but it's close.

Smell: Highly malty, strong notes of barley and intense grains. Hints of coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Lots of hops and a touch of astringency due to alcohol. Rich, inviting.

Taste: Heavily malty, strong doses of crisp California hops, with a strong tart astringency due to the alcohol. Delicious qualities of coffee, chocolate, hints of bittersweet raisins. Sweet and astringent finish, with a dry, bittersweet, malty aftertaste that leaves me wanting another drink. As the beer warms the dryness and the maltiness become more prominent. Delicious and well-executed.

Mouthfeel: Thick, low carbonation. Chewy but also smooth.

Drinkability: A fantastic beer. Approximately equal to Bell's Expedition in terms of quality, and a fine brew to have on these cold winter evenings. A beer designed to be savored and enjoyed for as long as the bottle lasts.

danielharper, Oct 28, 2008
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,926 ratings.