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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.

7,048 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,048
Reviews: 2,591
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 538
Gots: 1,558 | FT: 87
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: 7,048 | Reviews: 2,591 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of StarlightSeraph
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Spring 2008 release, poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Foothills 10 oz glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark, dark brown, with a finger-and-a-half of tan head. Left quite a bit of lacing. The head subsided fairly quickly.

Smell: Coffee, milk chocolate, lactose, roasted malts. All the flavors blend together creating a really awesome scent as it warms.

Taste: Roasted malts are the most prevalent flavor, which fade to a nice alcohol bite in the background. Heavy coffee notes, with a nice balance of sweetness to temper it slightly. The roasted/coffee aftertaste lingers for quite some time. As it warms, more chocolate flavors begin to come through. A slight pepper kick in the background.

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated, but a little too thin for an Imperial Stout.

Drinkability: A very solid Imperial Stout, one that places more of an emphasis on the roasted notes than others I've had. The alcohol will sneak up on you with this one. A very good beer, but I'm not sure it's worthy of the hype. It's almost too strong of a roasted flavor, and I would have liked to see a little more balance.

StarlightSeraph, Feb 21, 2009
Photo of DrewOSU
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Purchased at Root Cellar in Cincinnati, OH

A: Pours black with an almost 2 inch, khaki color head. Huge cumulus foam sits on top of the beer, coating the side of the glass with huge lacing. Very impressive pour!

S: Sweet malts, with roasted coffee undertones. Faint alcohol in background.

M/T: Medium to viscous body that seems to coat the tongue. Thick swallow and oily remnants with the after taste. Initial roasted malt punch followed by a warm alcohol burn at the back of the throat. Finishes dry and toasted. Very smooth experience from start to finish.

D: Very drinkable. Every sip seems to be an initial wave of taste, followed by a warm feel of the alcohol and then a pleasant after taste. A very very solid beer. No gimmicks on this beer, just good all the way around. If I had to describe this beer in one word, it would be "solid".

DrewOSU, Feb 21, 2009
Photo of Chelsea1905
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This baby is BLACK!!! I've had porters before that I have held up to the light and seen a dark amber hue at the edges. However, this shows nothing....it's like liquid molases!

The head is a light brown with a good finger full of appearance. It fallas away and leaves a small ring around the top of the liquid and leave a decent amount of ringing. First appearance though, is brilliant!

Smells like chocolate malt, molases, treacle and then a lightness in the background.

Tastes like it smells and looks. I know that is strange to say, but when you see something this dark, you just know it is going to be a meaty beer. However, this still has a little lightness in it's aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium, not overly heavy, and I think you could finish this quite easily so drinkability is fine.

Overall, a great beer for almost half the price of something like Abyss


Chelsea1905, Feb 20, 2009
Photo of argock
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Screen printed "Limited 2008 Spring Release" on front label. Purchased from Market Street Wineshop (Charlottesville, VA) for $6.79.

A: Pure black with beige 1-finger head with good retention and scant bits of lace.

S: Chocolate, bitter coffee, licorice, and lightly burnt dark malts with a bit of leafy hops.

T: Mild chocolate/cocoa up front with more acrid, burnt dark malt flavors through the middle, with a touch of hops bitterness and continued licorice and molasses flavors in the finish.

M: Very silky with low carbonation and a nutty, chocolate aftertaste.

D: A very good RIS. I like a few others better, but this is very good an always easy to find. The sweetness is a bit surprising from Stone, but it is easy to tell the prodigious maltload they dedicated to this brew.

argock, Feb 18, 2009
Photo of mralphabet
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz Bottle (Spring 2008 Release) poured into pint glass

A: Black with a thin wisp of dark chocolate colored head that fades to a thin film around the edge. Not much lacing to be seen.

S: Very complex right off the bat.... Dark roasted grains, coffee maybe prunes, currants and other dark fruits and a little hops mixed in.... You get more coffee as the brew warms up.

T: As complex taste wise as it smells... Coffee, dark roasted grains, malts, chocolate have a nice sweetness to them with notes of currants, caramel & brown sugar. The coffee, chocolate & caramel standout as the brew warms up. The finish has a little hop bitterness and some alcohol kick. Very warming.. Could be the 10.8% Alc/Vol.

M: Boy this beer is thick !!! Full-Bodied.... Low Carbination and the mouthfeel has a silky texture that coats the mouth and finishes with a nice alcohol warmth.

D: Wow... This beer is great... Everything a Stout should be...this is a big complex beer it has a lot of balance and smoothness in flavors. And only gets better as it warms. According to the bottle it ages well.... I buying more and holding it for a few months... Great Brew I will buy again and again.... Stone Brewing Nails another one !!

mralphabet, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of bobv
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drinking this now in a Raftman beer snifter.

Initially, head is apparent but dissipates rather quickly.
Slight lacing.

Wonderful nose with malty chocolate and, of course, the 10.8% ABV is definitely present, but not overpowering at all.

Ah, the taste, well, well, well, what have we here? Fantastic! All of the previous reviews came very close to my experience. Bitter chocolate, roasted coffee, molasses, with some cherry sneaking in at the end. Wow!

Very good mouthfeel, slight carbonation, which is fine with me. Too many bubbles get in the way!

I think this is definitely an "end of night" beer to be savored. One of the best of the style, to be sure.

This is my second tasting of this RIS, the first was last Monday night upon arriving home from my first Kate the Great tasting at the brewery in Portsmouth. More on that later, because I want to crack open one of my "Kates" and review both tap (from notes) and bottle at the same time.

Stone Brewing is on top of the "hopheap", for sure.

Drink this beer!

bobv, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of oldhippie247
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours as dark as possible with a thick, creamy tan head. A lot of lacing left on the glass.

Nose is full of intense dark aromas: super bitter chocolate, sweet milky chocolate, coffee, big roasted malts, and alcohol.

Bracingly bitter and big. A warm booziness takes a big role on the palate, but in no way overpowers. More roasted coffee flavors than chocolate, reversing their respective prominence on the nose. A caramel smoothness helps with balance.

First time trying this beer, but there will be at least a second. Alcohol on this one is very evident...a sipper great with cigar.

oldhippie247, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of mugglesandhops
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received a couple bottles of this in trade. Poured this into a snifter. Pours an opaque black color with a nice dark tan head on it. Smells awesome, roasted malty goodness, bitter chocolate, and slight alcohol smell. Taste was great also. More chocolate than in the smell and more alcohol than in the smell also. Nice thick chewy mouthfeel. I drank 1 12 oz. bottle and did not need another one. The alcohol is fairly strong here. Overall an Amazing RIS

mugglesandhops, Feb 16, 2009
Photo of latercol
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this after a nice dinner. Poured into a oversized wine glass. Looks almost black with a thick tan head just like in the picture above... Gorgeous. had to pour slowly to keep it under control. Lacing is superb. Off to a good start.

Smell. Chocolate, cherries, sweet, wonderful, wonderful smell.

taste. There is a lot going on here. I like everything I am tasting. Alcohol level is perfect. I taste chocolate, some bitterness, but balanced. Nice.

Mouthfeel. Thick and Creamy

Overall. This is a sipper. Wonderful after a meal. Expensive, and strong. One is enough. I am savoring it :)

latercol, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of grogshopMike
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Early spring 08 release bomber consumed at Aj's Club Soda after tending bar. Pours a dark as night beautiful black with a coco brown head that dissipated in a minute or so. First sip was a bit cold it gets much, much better as it warms up a little, but the flavors are there roasted chocolate some coffee notes. and at 10.8abv it is very subtle. this i feel will get much better with some years on it so im gonna stash a few away. Not recommend as a started Stout but a must try for any stout advocate.

grogshopMike, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of droomyster
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black, all but impenetrable except for brown around the edgues, with a frothy, creamy, tan head with excellent retention. Smells of expresso, roastiness, and burnt chocolate. Taste is absolutely phenomenal, unforgettable. First thing you notice is the fact that its so tightly concentrated that it almost burns initially (I'm sure that the 10% abv also has something to do with that!), and then opens into sweeter, chocolatey, burnt sugar notes before finishing with dark cocoa bar and roasty bitterness. We've all tasted these flavors in other stouts and porters, but few other beers can approach the sheer concentration of these elements that Stone somehow achieves. An exceptionally full-bodied, high intensity, concentrated blast of darkness that is nothing short of astonishing. A great beer.

droomyster, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of JordanChabot
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is truly an experience... 2008 bottle... room temp...
paired with Ghardelli Dark Chocolate with raspberry filling

A - Pure darkness with a weightless caramel head

S - bitter chocolate...dark berry fruit ... (black cherry.... blackberries)

T - Cocoa...black cherry... bitter chocolate....dusty malt....dry roasted oak....tannin. Honestly drinks like an incredibly complex red Bordeaux.

M - Very light and airy...like chocolate mousse. Nice dry finish. So pleasant. Never had a stout with such a silky body.

D - This is dangerously drinkable. I recommend a 12oz bottle to play it safe...and hide the others from yourself.... or...hide your car keys and plan on taking the next day off.... I'm not your dad... I don't think?

JordanChabot, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of PutsDeBnABV
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stone Imperial Russion Stout - '08 Cask
Beach Wood BBQ
A - Had the same color as all the other Stone IRS, but had a much larger foamy style head.

S - Not as many of the flavors came out in the smell, but you can smell a hint of chocolate and cherry mix.

T - It was a good taste not nearly as strong as others that were served on tap, all the same flavors just more mild

M - EXCELLENT mouthfeel. It had a warm fluffy feel

D - not as much alcohol taste coming out made this beer very drinkable anlong with the mouthfeel.

PutsDeBnABV, Feb 10, 2009
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,048 ratings.