1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

7,061 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,061
Reviews: 2,591
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 542
Gots: 1,566 | FT: 88
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,061 | Reviews: 2,591 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bcm119
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a viscous black with a minimal tan head. Roasty aroma with cocoa and coffee. Nice toasty malt flavors, balancing hops, and a medium mouthfeel. Smooth and elegant through the middle, with some roasted malt complexity and some minty hop bitterness in the background. The long finish comes just short of cloying. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but a tasty beer and spot-on for the style.

bcm119, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle labeled limited spring 2008 release into large snifter.

A: Pours black with a two-finger light brown head. Decent retention.

S: Strong chocolate and roasted malts with coffee, cream, and coffee with notes of alcohol. Very pleasant.

T: Strong alcohol hits along with chocolate and roasted malts. There's some notes of cream with a roasted coffee finish. The dominate flavors are easily alcohol and chocolate. Although the alcohol is strong it's the kind of pleasing alcohol that you almost savor with not burn on the throat.

M: First thing I noticed when this brew hit my tongue was the strong carbonation in this heavy brew, remarkable, absolutely perfect.

D: For the style, alcohol, and boldness this is a very drinkable imperial stout. I was a little let down in the taste department, but maybe another try will brighten that up.

AdmiralDiaz, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of Beefeater57
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This is opaque. Solid black, no hints of anything else. Poured from the bottle like engine oil. Mocha head, decent retention.

S: Black licorice is the most dominant smell I get from it. Also get traces of coffee, smoke, and alcohol.

T: Roasted malts are very strong and I get a heavy dose of sweetness that is of bittersweet chocolate and coffee. Alcohol is in the aftertaste, I can tell this is a high ABV with just one sip.

M: Probably the most thick, chewy mouthfeel I have ever experienced. It feels like the beer leaves a slighty grainy film on my tongue.

D: For a Russian Imperial, this is one fine example. This is quite the meal in itself. I can't drink more than one, however, I enjoyed this beer very much. The sweetness and thick chewiness of it makes for an excellent beer to have with dessert, especially something like a brownie or mud pie.

Beefeater57, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of endincolorado
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Thick and syrupy, opaque black with creamy tan-colored head

Smell- Powerful, roasty malt and bitter hops, coffee and cocoa, tingly bitterness in background

Taste- Roasty cocoa and coffee, caramel, strong hoppy bitterness to balance, with a sweet malty- and then bitter finish. Well balanced, and focused.

Mouthfeel- heavy and syrupy, creamy and wonderful- perfect carbonation

An excellent example of the style, Stone impresses once again.

endincolorado, Mar 08, 2009
Photo of cvstrickland
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

I've waited a long time for a swing at this storied elixir, and am glad to have a cool 12-ounce bottle from the Spring 2008 release. Grimacing at me from the screen-printed longneck is a pretty nasty-looking gargoyle sporting an old-school Commie-style fez. Perhaps he is sneering at my unworthiness, but the joke's on him... the beer he's guarding is going into my glass whether he thinks I deserve it or not!

Of course 'my glass' is of the Stone shaker pint variety, and is also adorned with the fearsome winged figure...

Fruity malt perfume laden with chocolate and licorice hisses forth as I pop the crown off the bottle. Poured into the aforementioned gargoyle-clad vessel, Stone IRS is matte-ebony in color with a finger-thick cap of light brown sugar-colored foam atop. Not even when held directly to the light does any other color twinkle on the edge of the inky blackness in my glass. Lacing is left on the tumbler in fine-bubbled, wispy webs.

The aroma is rich and chocolatey with lots of perfumey fruit and liquory candies. Fermenting berries with notes of toasted granola and coffee tumble with burnt caramel, vanilla, dark raisins, licorice and toffee.

The taste is rich and wonderful, the profile jam-packed with a perfect melange of melted milk chocolate bars and dark chocolate truffles, with liquefied homemade fudge brownies, coffee with whole milk and raw sugar, creamy vanilla caramel, silky toffee juice... each wonderful mouthful brings forth a new flavor sensation. As the drink progresses, notes of dusty cocoa and spicy licorice accent a bit of peppery alcohol that warms the belly, loosens the tongue, and complements the rest of the drink just perfectly.

The brew is Michaelangelo-chiseled perfection in feel with mild carbonation and a full, solid, creamy body. I really can't think of any way that Stone could possibly improve the quality of this beer, outside of making it available from my kitchen faucet, and somehow keeping the monster-sized ABV from kicking my ass....

Otherwise, kids, believe the hype. Stone Imperial Russian Stout is unbelievably excellent, and is now my new personal benchmark for the style. The 12-ounce bottle is a perfect serving size for it, too.

cvstrickland, Mar 08, 2009
Photo of Frosty80
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Color: sits black with a little dark brown rim

Smell: TONS of chocolate. smells like its loaded with cocoa powder. usually it seems imperials are dominated by coffee, but it definitely takes a back seat here. a hint of alcohol is noted but really only on a deep inhale.

Taste: first, there is chocolate. then there is the alcohol. somewhere in between is some coffee and some bitterness. alcohol mostly comes though in the finish. little bit of bitterness and roast also in the finish.

Mouthfeel: full body. low carbonation. smooth

Notes: absolutely delicious. a bit more tame than comparable imperials because of so much chocolate. i guess i kinda like a slightly more present alcohol tone. but damn, this is delicious. might still be a little cool. we'll see as it warms

Frosty80, Mar 08, 2009
Photo of Rayek
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a spring 2008 bottle.

A: Pitch black with a deep tan cap that starts out huge. Head retention is above average and patches of lace are left behind.

S: Pine forest meets licorice plant. A nice balance of dark sugars and woodsy hops.

T: Very complex. Malt is dominated by flavors of molasses, licorice and a touch of baker's chocolate. Bitterness is strong, but not over the top with its powerful pine bite. The entire flavor lingers through the finish.

M: Medium-heavy body is syrupy and slick. Carbonation is a touch on the high side.

D: A very nicely balanced RIS. Bold taste isn't dominated by any particular flavor, which is nice. Definitely worth a revisit.

Rayek, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of OtherShoe2
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle a deep brown/black with a half-finger tan thick head. Some lacing, but not much.

First whiff gave me deep roasted grain, a hint of vanilla (that I couldn't find again as I got thru the pint - ?), coffee, and either a cane syrup or blackstrap molasses scent.

Great flavors here. French-roast coffee and dark chocolate are first and are immediately pushed out of the way by the alcohol. Next is some sweetness akin to molasses, and a bitterness from some hops. Great balance and layering here.

Full bodied, but not cloying -- the alcohol is a bit astringent and clears the palate well.

Overall, really surprised at the drinkability of this one. Imperials are usually real sippers for me, but I found myself drinking this one faster than I thought I would. I also think that because I found it in a 12 oz. bottle, I wasn't ready to be done with it due to sheer consumptive volume. Really great.

OtherShoe2, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of colts9016
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to traquairlover for this bottle.

Pour into a pint glass at 54 degree.

Appearance: A deep dark brown color with a one finger head. The head is dark tan color with a rock solid head. The clarity of the beer is opaque, no light is going to get through.

Nose: A rich roasted dark grain with chocolate, coffee, and molasses. There is a nice hoppy aroma with a subtle floral aroma. In the background of the beer there is a burnt character that is like a hint, also with some caramel and toffee.

Taste: A deep rich complex heavy grain bill. There is a beautifully roasted dark grain with a slight burnt character. In the beer there is coffee, chocolate, and molasses. In the back ground of the the hops is there but it is subtle floral aroma, also with caramel and toffee.

Overall: The mouth feel is full body rich and complex beer with some creaminess. The finish is full and lasting. This beer is huge with a good amount of hops note. This beer is really good. I would like a few more bottles, but unlikely.

colts9016, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of sonicdescent
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black with a head thicker than most an some highlights around the edges. Looks viscous.

Scent of dark fruits over the typical ris scents of chocolate and toffee. Not much booze or roasted malt present.

Taste is rather creamy with chocolate swooping in, then being taken over by roasted malt. There it is! The fruits from the scents are present but muted. Complex, but not to the level of a Dark Lord. Very good.

Feel is rather thick and near flat. Nice!

Finally another one that is good and relatively easy to come by.

sonicdescent, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of mjryan
3.58/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very, dark with a thin tan head. Faint aroma of chocalte and charred malts. The aroma intensifies as the beer warms. Smooth chocolate flavour followed by mellow coffee notes, slightly sweet in the middle but dries out in the finish. Hop flavour and aroma are minimal, and the hop bitterness is very mellow but does still manage to provide balance. Lower carbonation and huge malts contribute to a rediculously smooth body. The 10.8%ABV is well hidden. Not my favorite imp stout, but very good none the less.

mjryan, Mar 04, 2009
Photo of superdedooperboy
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle of "Limited Release Spring 2008" poured into a snifter glass.

As black as old engine oil, this beer gives off a creamy cinnamon-toned head that settles somewhat quickly and leaves behind nice rings of cling on the walls of the glass.

Aroma is mostly roasty, with some bitter chocolate playing in front of a hazy backdrop of hop notes.

Thick and full-bodied, with a smooth mouthfeel and a light tingle of carbonation. Roasted malts open up for a surprising (though perhaps not surprising considering the brewery) onslaught of bitter hop notes combined with coffee and dark chocolate, fading away into a lingering bitter, dry finish.

A very West Coast interpretation of a Russian imperial stout, with a bitter dryness that makes it go down quickly, but coming in at over 10% ABV, it's best to tame it and sip rather than quaff.

superdedooperboy, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of Calicoast
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Beechwood. 2007 Stone RIS, 3 glasses and still trying to find more. My girl enjoyed a sip of mine, ordered a few as well, she doesn't usually drink stouts. She actually made a comment a few days later saying how good that beer was. If you can get it, get it now, hopefully I can beat you to wherever it is.

Calicoast, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of NCSUdo
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle

A: Pitch black body under a small dark brown head. Some spotty lace, no retention.

S: Roasted malt, chocolate, maybe some dark fruit and some nuttiness. A bit lacking for me in the aroma department.

T: Coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, espresso, hint of a sweet cream, pretty big bitter finish, all accompanied by booze.

M/D: Full bodied and smooth. Carbonation is light and alcohol very apparent as already mentioned. Drinkability is good for such a large beer. A preferred sipper, but something that could be had in a decent quantity, at least until the alcohol catches up to you.

Good all around beer, but a little lacking in some areas and, at times, a bit overwhelming in the taste department. I think this one could stand some time. I'll revisit this review upon diving into my 07 version some time in the future.

NCSUdo, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of vacax
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours gloppy and jet black with a very nice thick mocha head. Exceptional lacing.

S: Bready, roasted and somewhat spirit like with a chocolate and dark fruit backdrop.

T: For me this is the style-defining Russian Imperial Stout. Heavily roasted malt flavors balance with bitter chocolate essences. Some alcohol burn at 10.8% but quite smooth (early 2008 bottle here). Fresh this beer has more alcohol and chocolate, but this is also amazing aged as the alcohol smooths out and dark fruit flavors come to light. A great beer, I count this as probably the best without getting into rare "one day a year" or barrel aged releases.

M: Heavy body with moderate carbonation. Smooth and thick.

D: Such a great beer, I can easily drink bombers of this stuff (though 12 oz. bottles are now available). Great balance in this one. One of (if not the only) few imperial stouts I can actually purchase regularly and truly savor. The best imperial stout on the market that is not impossible to get.

vacax, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of blaje
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Spring 2008 release and opened Feb 2009. almost a year old.
Served @ 10 oC. Pours as a dark black translucid liquid and formed a medium head, mocha in color. Unfortunatly not lasting long enough, disapeared in about two minutes leaving a small lacing aroud the glass.
First impression: not as thick and heavy as I was expecting.
Nose is revealing anise and rosted coffee. Fruit smell is present, certainly due to high alcohol content.
Mouthfeel is very plesant. It is surprisingly sharp for an Imperial Stout. Very nice bitterness that tempers down the heavy side of the stout type of beer
An impressive stout, very well balanced.

blaje, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of TequilaSauer
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black with a surprising amount of head and lacing.

Smells of dark chocolate, hazelnut, and roasted malts. Very pleasant aromas, but they do nothing to hint at the flavor that awaits.

The taste is incredible. Fantastic balance. The entire experience of drinking this beer is thoroughly enjoyable. Attacks with heavy chocolate with gives way to a roasted, malty coffee flavor. Again, there is more carbonation than expected. On the finish, the chocolate is gone, but a heavy, slightly smoky, coffee flavor with remains. A very tasty stout, indeed!

Not the most drinkable stout in the world, but there's very little alcohol hint given the ABV, and that flavor will leave you coming back for more.

If this were more widely available, it would easily run toe-to-toe with Ten Fidy, Expedition, and Rasputin as my go-to stouts.

TequilaSauer, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of remllof
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got my hands on this in eastern NC thanks to my beer store being such a great customer. Pours out jet black, with an amazing thick golden brown head. Leaving behind nice thick lacing. The aroma has hints of coffee, a bit of alcohol just wonderful. The taste has hints of coffee, chocolate, a bit of alcohol, but very little considering how high this brew is. Mouth feel has a nice bit of thickness but not as thick as I thought this would have been. Overall a great beer from Stone, considering this is my intro into Stone I need to find some others.

remllof, Feb 28, 2009
Photo of jgap
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a short brown head. Smell is chocolate with coffee and dark, toasty toffee. Taste is dark bitter chocolate up front followed by toasty toffee malts and molasis. There is coffee on the back end with a bit of alcohol. Slightly thick, not very but it's there. It improves as it warms. This beeris perfect for aging!

jgap, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of jera1350
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep jet black color with small dark tan head that is gone pretty quickly. Fair amount of lacing down the glass.

Roasted malt and coffee smell. Also nutty and a hint of raisin.

Toasted malt, dark chocolate, some coffee and alchohol in the taste also.

Smooth and thick feeling. Quite a bit of carbonation on the tongue and down the back of my throat.

Good drinkability. A bit of a sipper due to the strong flavor and alcohol present.

Good IRS, but there are some better ones out there.

jera1350, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of mjl21
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. Batch is from Limited Spring 2008 release. Enjoy by date is 1/1/13. Comes in at 10.8%.

A-Black as tar. Pours a small 1/2 finger tan head that leaves as quickly as it shows up. Cool looking oily film floats on top. Minimal tan lacing sticks around.

S-Roast malt, some vanilla, lactose, and alcohol. As it warms, dark stone fruit comes through.

T-Chocolate and bitterness from the hops with a nice bit of warming alcohol on the finish. As it warms, definite tastes of dark stone fruit and vanilla come into play.

M-Full and creamy. It feels like a big beer. Bitterness lingers throughout and alcohol can be detected.

D-A great example of the style. A great beer for a nightcap. One to sip and appreciate its nuances as it warms.

I think the saying on the back of the bottle perfectly sums up this beer for me. It is thick, rich, and sinful.

mjl21, Feb 25, 2009
Photo of beer2day
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aged 1 year in the beer fridge.

Pours a deep black with essentially no head. Very little lacing left on the glass.

Nose is very complex. Vanilla bean and chocolate combine with roasted coffee and a hint of caramel.

The hit is right on the money, with just the right thickness for an RIS. The alcohol in this one is pretty cleverly masked, but you breathe it in the end. Finishes with a good combination of sweetness from the chocolate and bitters.

Overall, an excellent beer.

beer2day, Feb 25, 2009
Photo of sirsteve42
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This stout pours a black color with a very small tan head and some lacing. I get hints of coffee,vanilla,raisins,alcohol and some chocolate. A lighter mouthfeel compared to other stouts allowing you to put it back quickly. The taste is a coffee and raisiny flavor especially after i let it warm up just a little bit. Overall a great stout and would buy again.

sirsteve42, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of maddmatt48
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark as coffee with light brown head. Smells of coffee, anise, vanilla, and alcohol. Mouthfeel- it is thick, but very smooth and silky almost. Taste dates, prunes, vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. Not one flavor over powers the others. I have found a new favorite Imperial Russian Stout. It is outstanding.

maddmatt48, Feb 22, 2009
Photo of jjboesen
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In the 19th Century, trade routes had opened between England and the Baltic States; and, since many porters of the day would not endure the journey, the brewers made their beers especially strong - much like they did with IPAs. The result is this exquisite style of beer (It is called "Russian" due to the fact that it was enjoyed by those folks.

Stone's version is a big and toasty concoction that starts out with a giant head of billowy cream-colored foam. It retains sweet aroma of anise combined with chocolate. The palate is greeted with a heavy but smooth malt blast that fades into biscuity warmth.

The mouthfeel is exciting; there is a warm blanket that covers the palate; and yet, despite the alcohol, which is subtle, this one is deceptively smooth at initial sip.

As I mentioned, this beer became very popular in Russia; in fact, the mad monk Grigory Rasputin is said to have particularly enjoyed it - I guess when he wasn't seducing the Czarina. (Maybe some brewer should name an Imperial Stout after him ... Naaahh!)

jjboesen, Feb 22, 2009
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,061 ratings.