1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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
97
world-class

7,287 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,287
Reviews: 2,601
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 586
Gots: 1,633 | FT: 95
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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,287 | Reviews: 2,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SpencerSauce
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I Bought my bottle for 3.49. And it looks like a good one. I like how Stone etches their labels. It costs alot more than paper labels. For a paper label it would be a penny. For a bomber etched like a shakespeare stout. It cost a whole 25 cents. Thats alot considering the quantity of the bottles going through the line.

Poured into a pint.

A- Black but with more head than i thought would be in there. Impressive brown head.

S- A huge roasted coffee smell along with dark.

T- Dark chocolates, and coffee flavor but still sort of sweet.

M- coats the mouth extremely well.

D- easy but not after the to many

Photo of Anthony1
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

tap poured into snifter

It pours a rich, dark color with a thin tan head. Aromas of roasted malt, caramel, chocolate, coffee. Great mix of dark flavors the lead to an amazing taste. The full body felt think and creamy, but didn't slow me down. Every sip lead to another, not wanting to put the glass down. I could have drank myself to death, and with 10%+ abv, i very well may have.

Photo of cullen0013
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 650mL bomber into a mug.

A - Pours oily black with high viscosity, leaving an inch thick head that leaves creamy lacing on the wall of the glass.

S - Smoky roasted barley and coffee notes permeate the nose.

T - Hoppy, dark chocolate bitterness. Alcohol presence is quite subdued for a beer of this gravity.

M - Lightly carbonated, thick and velvety.

D - Due to the high ABV I wouldn't call this beer "sessionable" but it does drink easy. So rich you're better of savoring every sip.

Photo of AstroAcks6
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first BA review and what a beer to start reviewing with!

Spring 2009 Release- Standard Pint Glass

A- Deep black color with no sign of carbonation, zero head but a slight ring around the edge of the glass that lasted for the entire bottle.

S- Massive chocolate notes with plenty of coffee and a slight hint of Anise

T- Smokey chocolate/coffee taste almost burnt. Just enough alcohol flavor to not be overwhelming

M- Full bodied, thick yet slippery and oily on the tongue

D- Very easy to sip on and savor. I got a great buy (4.99 mis-marked) but well worth the normal price any day! Can't wait to try my cellared bottles.

Serving Type: 22ox Bottle.

Photo of njbcmatt
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz in a good ole pint glass.

A- Surprisingly little head, what was there was a dark cream'n'coffee head that definitely hung around for the duration. Opaque black in color.

S- huge. chocolate and coffee aromas predominate. I even get some cognac aroma in the background, must be the alcohol.

T- _Just_ enough sweetness to balance the huge body. Rich and full taste, lots of that same coffee and chocolate. Like an mocha irish coffee. Light on the carbonation, but I'm not sure that's a negative.

M- Thick, rich, and creamy. Lingers forever.

D- For me, perfect drinkability, but I like them strong and can handle the heavy hitters. I could see this knocking a few people over, but right up my alley.

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

Had this on tap at Rattle-n-Hum. Poured into a goblet

A: Black as night though it was a little hard to see the true colors in the dimly lit bar. A mahogany colored head that was medium coarsity. Left nice lacing as it dissipated.

S: Chocolate, raisins and other dark fruit. This is what I expect a proper RIS to smell like.

T: Deep roasted hints of milk chocolate is what my palate first notices that cover what appears to be a dark fruit undertone. There is a nice warming sensation throughout with the ABV peeking its head towards the finish. This seemed to be served a little too cold initially but as the brew warmed up, another sip revealed a nice maltiness and also a dark chocolate contribution.

M: Deep bodied just the way I like it. It coats the mouth in a silkiness that lingers but also seemed to have what can only be described as a type of mustiness about it.

D: For me, the poster boy of a mid-grade priced but high-grade taste RIS. This beer is what its all about and I can never wait to have another.

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

had on tap and served in a pint glass at the Stone Bistro

A-black-brown body with a tan head.

s-toasted grains and prevelant alcohol smell.

T-alcohol, dark chocolate and roasted grain

M-full

d-Get it. This beer is incredible. very good presentation of the style. Full of flavor but not so much as to turn one off.

Photo of Brenden
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew is black, inky and thick. There's no way to see through this one. A tannish head takes much longer to dissipate from the tap than it did from the bottle and it sits at a couple fingers, leaving some patchy lacing down the glass nonetheless.
Big aromas come out of this one: heavily roasted coffee beans, bittersweet dark chocolate, the charcoal-like note that's common in a lot of imp stouts, molasses and black licorice, dried fruits (currant or plum), some smoky wood, lots of toasted and roasted grains, and a slightly acidic bitter undertone that actually maintains decent balance by way of an underlying malt sweetness. The aroma simply isn't as strong as it is from the bottle, though.
The taste, as with all Stone brews with which I'm familiar, is nothing one wouldn't expect to discover from the aroma. Everything's very much up front and the balance is impressive. As with the aroma, the flavor is the same flavor as I get from the bottle, but a bit muted on tap; when that happens, it takes something away from the experience of such a huge brew.
The mouthfeel is smooth and thick, making for a creamy, rich brew. The body is very full, not quite motor oil consistency (this batch, anyway), but close to it. Carbonation is quite moderate, though crispness is muted by the full thickness of this beast. It is present, though.
As I expect from Stone, this is a huge brew with massive flavor exactly to style.

Photo of Boofshavik
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 poured from a bomber into 2 pints (sharing with the beer-advocate-in-training wife)

Pours an inky black with a thin coffee colored head that fades fairly quickly into bubbles around the rim. High alcohol is evident in the legs when swirled. Viscosity is certainly high, but a little lower than I expected in appearance.

Aroma is perhaps the best part of this brew. A very pleasant and not overpowering chocolate and toasty nose without the burnt character often in the style. Some currant character (as mentioned on the bottle). Higher alcohols present.

The warmth from the alchol is present in the first sip. I expect it would benefit greatly from a year in the cellar. On the exhale, the alcohol almost overpowers the nicely balanced roasty malt character. The sweetness right in the front of the mouth keeps me reaching for the glass!

It lays heavy on the palate, but isn't as slick and almost slimy as other high ABV beers can be (which I appreciate). Carbonation is just right, barely cutting through the viscosity.

Using @Mebuzzard's criteria of "only half a beer left?!" versus "I still have half a beer?!" for drinkability, the Stone RIS does very well. The front sweetness balances so well with the chocolate malt and carbonation as to keep me quaffing. If the alcohol character was either mellowed slightly or masked a bit it would be even better, as I imagine it will be next year.

Photo of ocelot2500
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep black color with a tight mocha head. Sheets of lacing left on the glass.

The smell is of roasted malts with a big coffee and chocolate note. Think flavored coffee with some alcohol mixed in. Not much in the way of hops.

The taste is big roasted malts with the coffee chocolaty flavors coming through. This is a malt bomb with a molasses flavor coming through as well. There is also a slight estery note that comes through, but it is subdued. The bitterness from the coffee roastiness combines with the chocolate to make this fairly balanced. This should be a sipper, but I just keep wanting more since it is so delicious.

The mouthfeel is an exceptionally thick, syrupy. Coats the tongue well.

This is a very drinkable brew and I wish I had bought another bottle.

Photo of thekanna
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark like pitch and motor oil. Almost no head but significant lacing down the side of the glass.

S: Strong smell of dates, roasted malts, and a somewhat unpleasant animal stall flavor. Where did that come from?

T: Huge roasted/ burnt malt character is balanced with aromatic coffee, very dark chocolate, dates, and licorice. The anise-flavored spiciness, peppered with some dark berries (I detect blackcurrant), cloves, and chili peppers, really gives this a nice sweet zing.

M: Smooth and thick; coats the tongue with a soothing, sticky layer.

D: Wonderfully sippable; the smell could use some work though.

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

On tap @ the Copper Mine Pub (North Arlington, NJ) on 7/24/09. 8 oz pour served in a Chimay glass.

Pours black as night in the glass, with a 1/4 finger of creamy burnt mocha colored head. Just awesome retention here, staying rich & frothy the whole way through the glass, leaving a big cascade of creamy spotty lace and brown goo back. The aroma is just awesome smelling, being quite heavy in the nose, with a perfect evenness between the darkker notes of roast & coffee and then the sweeter tones of chocolate, toffee, and dark fruits. As mentioned before, the alcohol presence gives this some heavy presence in the nostrils but is never stinging, instead imparting a cozy smelling warmth that makes this a pleasure to sniff.

The taste starts with a big crunchy flush of blackened and burnt roast and zippy espresso character. This is then balanced (if you can call it that) by an equally massive sweeter base of dark chocolate, toffee, black currants, and liquorice. Man, the finish on this is absolutely bitter and roasty that just STICKS in the mouth. Very satisfying. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a big mouthfilling prickly carbonation that really brings out the sharp roasty character in this. This then slickens out towards the back, with a chewy feel that carries the bulk of the huge sweetness in this with it. That hefty ABV is present, but just like the best RIS do, it never detracts from the flavors but instead gives them extra gravitas in the profile, helping make everything pop.

A classic from Stone no doubt. Full flavored, full bodied, full everything, RIS that leaves nothing on the table. I love the fact that you don't have to give up an arm or a leg to procur if either. Great stuff!

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

22oz bomber, i let warm a bit after pulling from fridge.

A - pours like oil. black and thick with a one finger head that will fade to leave a sticky ring.

S - deep rich smell of malt, chocolate and an earthy wood smell.

T - smooth, but you can still definitely taste the 10.5% in this genuine stout. all the things in the smell become very apparent as you begin to draw in what feels like a very oily mixture of coffee and malt.

M - smooth, with little aftertaste or bite.

D - A good after meal beer, but definitely heavy.
I don't see myself having more than one of these.

Photo of grayburn
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What an excellent example of the style. I was worried that something from stone would somehow be hop dominated even at the RIS level. Wrong. The balance of this beer is quite impressive, the mouthfeel is definitely the key player here, incredible smoothness brings flashing notes of chocolate and licorice. Slight bitterness really integrates with the carbonation to prevent any kind of cloying sweetness, which definitely ups the drinkability. Overall a very good beer, surprisingly true to style, not overwhelming but blended. Excellent.

Photo of abar22
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a tulip.

The Stone IRS came out black and thick with a 1 inch mocha head. It settled quickly into a thin cap with a nice thick ring around the glass. Lacing was there but minimal.
The nose is a bit more subdued than I'd like. With a full head you get a whiff of chocolate. When the head subsides the roasted coffee, a RIS staple, comes through. Neither are particularly strong though both are pleasant. Nice but not as complex or fragrant as I'd like.
A touch of carbonation hits first opening up to a nice smooth feeling body. The middle boasts of sweet chocolate and a hint of something dark and tart(raisins?). The ending brings the roasted malts and coffee that finishes nice and dry.
The mouthfeel is consistent with great Imperial Stouts; smooth, creamy, with mild carbonation. The after taste leaves hints of roasted malts and alcohol.
12 oz goes down like a dream and going for two would be filling but not difficult. At $6 a bomber Rasputin and Storm King are better deals.

Photo of 1santore
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All I can say about this beer is WOW!! It pours thick and black. The smell is just a wonderful blend of coffee and chocolate. The smell alone is enough to win me over. I had a 22 oz. bomber. The first glass I drank chilled, but recomend letting it warm as I did with my second glass. It really brings all of the flavors out. As far as I'm concerned the best Russian Stout out there.

Photo of kegger22
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one's almost black, oily with a respectable beige head that didn't last too long. A nice aroma of coffee and chocolate. The taste followed suit with coffee foremost, chocolate second and a bit of anise. Rich, heavy, oily is the feel; as a stout should be. If you put away a bomber, that should be plenty. The tastes were different cold vs. warmed at room temperature, both enjoyed.

Photo of abriggs1
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

This is obviously an amazing beer. It manages to taste like dark and milk chocolate at the same time. Strong tastes of molasses and coffee. Undertones of Liquorice and cassis. Pours like crude oil and has a bold taste that is not for those lacking in grit and backbone. I'm still trying to decide if I think this or Old Rasputin is better. One of these days I will try them side by side and settle this once and for all.

2009 Spring release that I'm drinking has an alc/vol of 10.5%, not 10.8%

Photo of drpimento
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bomber - uh, somewhen. It's dated 2005. and doesn't say "Russian" on it. Poured a small finely bubbled frothy foamy head and some lace. Color is absolutely opaque brown. Aroma is quintessential imperial stout but with a subtle enticing ripe red cherry quality. Flavor's about the same. In spite of the power of the beer, it's oddly drinkable. Righteous beer!

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz, Spring 2008 Released vintage, into a snifter. Pours pitch black and is topped with a silky smooth, dark tan head. A good bit of lacing and the head retention is pretty darn outstanding.

Aroma is chocolatey, smoky, slightly fruity, a touch sweet. A slight alcoholic aroma is a bit solventy which is a slight turnoff.

This could be the best RIS I have had. The smoke seems to be more prevalent in the flavor. Smoky, vanilla, chocolate, roasted grains, citrus hops, dark roasted espresso. Simply wonderful.

Nearly perfect mouthfeel. Really thick stouts tend to be sweet and not one I prefer. This one has a big, medium body with perfect carbonation. Silky and creamy and oily.

So easily drinkable. I am not afraid to say this is top two or three Impys I have ever had. I have two more bottles from 2006 and cant wait to try them.

Photo of association330
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 22 oz. bomber, with all the usual Stone characteristics. Spring 2009 release.

A - Pours thick, opaque black with a finger of bubbly, tan head. Eventually drops to a pretty solid cap with a thick ring of foam. Some lace sticks around, which is surprising for a 10.5% brew.

S - Bittersweet burnt malt aromas. Good coffee, dark fruits, and a slight alcohol note.

T - Burnt malt, sweet roastiness, bitter French Roast coffee, dark chocolate, prunes, molasses. Bitter hop/roast coffee finish.

M - Body is almost perfectly heavy, rich and chewy. Carbonation is moderate and creamy. Alcohol prickle speaks of a fairly young brew, which might mellow out with some cellaring.

D - Pretty good RIS at work here. I'd love to cellar a bottle for a year or so and see what the results are.

Photo of david18
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an exceptional beer and probably the best in the stone colledtion. It is one of a handful of beers that explains why the imperial russian and american stouts are always at the top of the llst in beer popularity. Great bitterness, malt and alcohol. A marriage made in heavan.

Photo of DerBayer
2.35/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

The aftertaste of creamsoda

A - Nice tar colour but the off-brounish brackish head ruins it for me

S - Complex smell of aniseed, caramel and spice

T - At firt quite good you taste the spice then some faint chocolate then ... American cream soda - OUCH

M - Too flat flat flat I m afraid

D - At first this is slightly moorish then quickly creamsoda overkill and you dont know if you re in 21st century London or a 1950s american movie

Photo of bfields4
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice full mocha unrelenting head. Deep black body not really catching any off hues at all just jet black.

Really picking up the dark fruits at first. Very big currant smells. More of the roasted malt coffee smells come along the more I drink. A little smokiness to boot.

Wow the flavor of this guy is just phenomenal. Roasted malts are big up front with nice dark chocolate and coffee flavors. There is a touch of hop bitterness that really complements the other flavors so nicely. The black currants make a welcoming addition as I work my way through this beer.

Just such a smooth brew so velvety just glides down. Very light carbonation. Really love this beer can hardly taste the 10.5%. Have one aging in my basement that I hope I can keep my hands off of.

Photo of william5586
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Spring 2009 release

A- This beer appeared very viscous and seemed to pour slowly. It was pitch black with a decent sized tan head. The head eventually receded to a ring that left some lacing.

S- Roasted malt, dark chocolate. Left me wanting a little here.

T- Lots of roasted malts. A tiny bit of sweetness and dark chocolate. Slightly bitter finish topped off hint of alcohol.

M- Thick, coating, creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Very enjoyable.

D- I could sip on this beer all night. Its just plain good.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 7,287 ratings.