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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

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Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,448 Ratings

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Ratings: 7,448
Reviews: 2,627
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 653
Gots: 1,752 | FT: 100
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,448 | Reviews: 2,627
Photo of BlackHaddock
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown botle containing 1 pint and 6 fl oz. Spring 2009 release, drank Jan 2010. Poured into a Westmalle chalice and my huge 'Judas' tulip.

Looked very impressive, dark, black in fact jet black. The head was a full tan coloured head covering on both glasses.

The aroma was all darkness, roasted coffee, toasted malts and dark chocolate.

The taste followed the smell to the letter. The ground coffee was the most forward of the flavours, it also stayed the longest in the aftertaste. The alcohol content began to arrive towards the end of the moutfeel and was more prominent as the beer warmed.

Really enjoyed this beer, most likely the best beer from the USA I've had so far. Can't remember what score I gave Ten FIDY, but this is better in my opinion.

Photo of Moonraker7
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark black, head is a brownish tan color. Doesn't get much darker than this.

S: Burnt, roasted malts, chocolate, some sweetness and dark fruit, coffee. Alcohol seems dominant.

T: Very intense roasted coffee flavors and chocolate. Very sweet and malty as well, finishing off with some fairly bitter hops. Alcohol is hidden quite well once this beer warms up a bit.

M: Syrupy and creamy. Light carbonation.

D: The alcohol is hidden well and its very drinkable for a RIS. The sweetness is alittle much for my personal tastes, but that doesn't stop it from being a really solid beer. For the price, this may be one of the better RIS I've had.

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

From a bomber marked Spring 2009, to a snifter.

Pours an opaque black with a collar of loose mocha head, a few tiny bubbles. No lacing but leaves nice sudsy snail trails that slowly sink back into the body. Swirl it & see some sparkling gold.

Smells of dark fruit (dried cherries, prunes, cranberry), on the tart side, some roasty cocoa. Woody?

Taste is a sharp dark chocolate, tartness like dark fruit skins. Sharp alcohol, a tannic feel like dry red wine. Bitterness like coffee grounds.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, at first velvety smooth & then sharply alcoholic & bitter, nice aftertaste. Both comforting & a little confrontation, in turns. Heat waits & then comes hard.

Very enjoyable, big & tasty -- one is enough, but I ended up happily finishing the bomber. This was relatively young, & while it had some great things going for it, I'd love to have it aged to smooth out some of the rough edges. I'm sure the result would be fantastic.

Photo of oceanman
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

Pours near black all the way through with a thin head of deep reddish brown.

Rich cocoa aromas, leather, berries/plum, toasted marshmallows.

Prevailing roasted flavor, yet very smooth. Chocolate, coffee, faint soy sauce. Pleasant warming alcohol, has a bit of heat, but nicely creamy, especially as beer warms, gains complexity. Feels great - so smooth, yet lively.

A good model for imperial stouts to follow. Improves and comes into its own as it warms.

Photo of JohnL9013
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is a Stout to be reckoned with!

A: This stuff pours black and is literally viscous, like half-and-half. The head develops slowly since it's so viscous, and when it does form, it's the darkest brown I've seen. Oh, and the beer itself is jet black with zero transparency.

S: A complex nose dominated by coffee, molasses, and caramel. There's bittering hops in the background as well.

T: This is the best stout I've ever tasted. I remember trying Guinness Extra Stout last year and thinking what a nice, bitter stout it was, but that stuff is water compared to this. This fills in all the gaps Guinness is missing. There's a huge body to this beer, there's no other way to describe it. Big coffee flavor, very sweet, molasses, chocolate, and perfect bittering hops to balance...delicious! And really, really intense. Certainly, I had never had any beer like this before trying this stuff.

M: Ridiculously smooth. Surprisingly not dry for a stout, but very sweet and silky, creamily smooth. Ultra-low carbonation... just like drinking a good coffee or hot chocolate or something heavenly, but in beer form.

D: 10.5%? You can't even tell. Still very sweet and not the kind of thing you have more than one of.

My bottle was dated spring 2009 of this year. It mentions on the bottle that it's best left to "cellar" for a while. Well, I just drank this in November here and I'd say it was perfect.

EDIT: I am re-reviewing a second bottle of this beer. It's been almost three months since I reviewed the last one. Cellaring has changed this beer, believe it or not, and the most noticeable change was in its alcohol content, which seems to be quite high now.

A: Just as last time, this beer has the most epic appearance of any stout I've ever seen. Extremely viscous with a tall, thick head. The way this beer develops is amazing.

S: The smell is definitely better this time around...the beer is physically putting out more aromas than last time. There's a heavy roasted malt and chocolate nose.

T: The taste is in some ways an improvement but the alcohol content of this bottle seems to be higher than my last, whether due to the cellaring process or variations in the bottles. The flavors have smoothed out as I expected but the higher alcohol content almost masks some of the subtleties. Make no mistake, this is still phenomenal, and you can expect tons of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate, all of the highest caliber.

M: The mouthfeel has decreased in quality due to the increased alcohol content (this one burns going down, folks) but this is still one heck of a smooth stout, especially considering the ridiculously strong flavor profile.

D: This beer's drinkability is limited by its alcohol content. I love the taste of beer but I don't particularly like the feeling of getting drunk and make no mistake, after only a single bottle of this definitely-more-than-10.5%-beer, I was basking almost a little too much in beer nirvana. It goes down smooth but after you finish your bottle, I seriously doubt you will want anything else the rest of the night.

Photo of boatshoes
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in my first BIF from Brewfan. The 2007 vintage and my first experience with this beer. Thanks!

Appearance- Pours the usual opaque black with a half finger or so of dark brown, bubbly head that dies back immediately to a ring. Minimal lacing left as I drink and no noticeable beading.

Smell- Dominated by rich bitter chocolate and roasted malt. Just a hint of burnt coffee in the background. Smells quite rich and delicious.

Taste- Again, I find bitter chocolate to be in the forefront of the palate. Lots of rich roasted malt, coffee, and even a little bit of what I would call charcoal to round this one out in complexity as well. A whole lot of flavor swirling around but remarkably smooth after two years in the bottle.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Slick and heavy mouthfeel with just the right amount of minimal carbonation. Drinkability is very good for the style and the alcohol has smoothed out very well despite the high percentage.

Overall, a first rate RIS. Hope to try other vintages of this beer so I can see what it tastes like fresh and with more time on it.

Photo of pdoran10
3.43/5  rDev -21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Shared with my sister from a 22oz. bomber a few months ago, 2009 vintage. I think I've finally found my first beer in BA's top 100 that I don't like nearly as much as others.

The pour into a standard pint glass was exciting. Good carbonation produced about a half inch of rich head. The smell was complex, of roasted malt with a definite hop presence. This is one thing I love about Stone's beers, their aggressive hops! I am left disappointed by the taste. I get roasted malt right away, but then I am hit by a pretty biting alcohol taste. Surprised that this bothers me. I've enjoyed many bigger beers than this. Not impressed with the taste. Maybe with some aging and mellowing...

Anyways, mouthfeel was solid. Good consistency for a imperial stout. Feels solid and not sticky in your mouth. Drinability was not good. I could taste biting alcohol and it made me hesitant to want more than one glass.

Photo of madbrewer9
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost black, semi opaque with reddish highlights at the edges. Starts off with a nice dark tan head that dissapates quickly. Tiny bit of lacing, good legs.
Aroma is alchohol and a buttery sweetness that fades almost immediatley. Some molassas also.
Taste is a lot of sweet malt, with a touch of coffee, dark fruit and bitter chocolate to balance the sweetness. Just a hint of hop bitternes.
Med bodied, finishes almost slighty sweet with a small lingering bitterness that kicks in afterward.
Very drinkabale beer considering the style and strength.

Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into Globe Glass.

A. Poured a thick almost 1 finger dark tan head. Color is pure black. Not much head retention, and very little lacing.

S. Coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, alcohol.

T. Coffee, roasted malt, smokiness. Some sweetness, alcohol. Pretty smooth and delicous. The high ABV is pretty well hidden.

M. Has a creamy mouthfeel. Medium-full bodied. Faint lingering sweetness.

D. This is a highly drinkable Imperial Stout. Goes down very easy, and is incredibly smooth. A great RIS.

Photo of r0nyn
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. 2009 release.

Looks thick and appetizing just out of the bottle and into the glass, with typical stout opacity that's just completely inky black. Not too much of a head, just a few centimeters high and colored a light creamy caramel. Leaves a fair amount of lacing. Smell is a smoky mix of coffee and dark chocolate with subtle hints of fruitiness.

The initial sip has a bit of maltiness to it, followed by the coffee flavorings evident in the smell. There's an interesting mix of bitterness, combining the coffee and dark chocolate twang with some hoppy character towards the middle. Finish has a very slight alcoholic twinge, which surprised me given the 10.50% ABV of this stout. The aftertaste is lightly bitter, quite pleasant. Mouthfeel is nice and full-bodied, not too much carbonation. Went down smooth and easy.

Drinkability is quite good for a stout of this caliber. The alcohol is masked well and it was a smooth ride from start to finish. Overall, a very, very good RIS, something I'd definitely revisit.

Photo of BeerCon5
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours almost black in color with a good amount of foamy tan head.

The scent is of roasted coffee, molasses and some alcohol notes.

The taste is of some fruit, fairly sweet molasses, roasty grains, coffee and a bit of chocolate. There are also some notes of caramel and noticeable alcohol.

Full bodied, very thick and chewy, adequate carbonation.

This was very tasty and flavorful, pretty easy to drink though very filling.

Photo of punkrkr27
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'03 bottle shared at January '07 metro Detroit tasting. Black pour with a small loose brown head. Big, sweet, fruity, coffee aroma. Lots of coffee flavor with lots of alcohol, raisin, dates and brown sugar. The body is sticky and full with a nice alcohol warming.

Photo of Luk13
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber many thanks to Hogtownharry! Dark black pour with thin veil of brown-reddish head. Aroma is so thick and malty, rich roasted grain, heavy molasses, and a bit of chocolate and some plums. Taste is very rich, molasses and ripe fruit, quite sweet well hidden alcohol, don't feel the advertised bitterness either. Palate is very chewy, heavy and absolutely great.

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

A- Evil dark black, solid throughout, with a thick brown head that stayed atop the whole time with excellent lacing

S- Cherries and chocolate with a cookie dough scent and, of course, the smoke

T- Lots and lots of chocolate and some smoke. It's sweeter than most RIS...very tasty

M- Thick and smooth, very creamy, with a great aftertaste

D- This is the best RIS I've ever had...period

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

Obsidian with a finger of tight, creamy bubbles. Not a lot of retention, nice lace.

Smells of dark roasted malts, espresso, some raisins and alcohol.

Instant hit of the big bitter roasted malt, some beef stock and high grade dark chocolate. Sweet fruits in the middle: raisins and blackcurrant. The booze is here, but only as a vehicle to the monster flavour. Finishes with lingering dry, tanin-y hops. Yummy.

Feels viscous and smooth. Body comes solely from malt selection as I'm not geting a lot of carbonation.

Will happily finish this 750ml, and would gladly share another... With myself even.

Photo of MPLS
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Spring 2008 release, drank winter 2010.

A: Dark, dark, dark-colored body with a soapy mocha head that has decent retention. Constant ring and plenty of lace.

S: Roasted malts, anise, chocolate, dark fruits, and somehops still kickin.

T: A great blend of "dark flavors" that make this beer a gentle giant. The alcohol wasn't overpowering. I was greeted with a coffee like bitterness up front that let to a anise dominated profile with hint of chocolate and dark fruits. Once you warped past the malt profile the finish of the beer has a decent of amount of dryness and a semi-sweet chalkiness to it. Mild alcohol warmth in the finish as well.

M: More than medium bodied, good carbonation and a nice heavy feel on the tongue.

D: A roasted anise monster with a nearly perfect body. It's a big beer nonetheless. Good job Stone.

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

2009 bomber poured into an Imperial Russian Stout glass from Stone.

A-Black as anything with a creamy dark tan head. Leaves excellent lacing.

S-Dark chocolate and roasted malts mostly with undertones of dark fruit.

T-Tons of everything it seems like. Chocolate, licorice, malts, molasses and a bit of that dark fruit. The alcohol is a bit potent at the start, but fades a bit towards the end.

M-Very smooth. Great body and carb.

D-Very drinkable but still a sipper. Very smooth, but say, not as smooth as the stout trooper I had last week. One of my favorite RIS's.

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

A: Looks fantastic, opaque black, not even dark brown. Small tan head that dissipates into a small pool.

S: Chocolate, malt, black licorice.

T: Roasted malt flavor and chocolate up front. A little bitter and boozy bite at the end, but faint.

M: Velvety, frothy smooth. Low carbonation.

D: It's a pleasure to drink.

Overall, kind of let down. It's great, but finding a lack of dark fruit. Probably tastes a lot better aged, obviously.

Photo of WhiteOak
3.4/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Ltd Spring 2009 Release

G- Riedel 6416/07

A- Black, showing black-olive green under direct light. Expansive foamy head settles quickly.

S- Average smell of roast and burnt malt, yeast. Some chocolatey currants/raisins.

T- Straightforward roasted malt and hop bitterness fight for dominance. Touch of coffee. Perhaps a bit too much hop bitterness, proportionally.

M- Viscosity and CO2 are within acceptable balance, but really a touch too much gas here.

Serving- Bomber

Photo of MOB210SA
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours decently solid 1 finger Intense mocha/and tan head that only slightly receeds down. An almost opaque blackness. Pretty damn dark. Practically black.

Nose and Taste is the usual IRS. Predominate coffee and dark chocolate, but with a strong alcoholic backdrop. Fierce.

Rich and full bodied.

Stone, Good job again.

(Will re-review later, and improve)

Photo of elgiacomo
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jul 10, 2009

22oz. bomber bottle. Pours black with small tan head.

Aroma and flavor heavy on the chocolate, dark roasted malts, and some coffee. Alcohol is very apparent! Definite burn going down.

Thick and rich, oily, with low carbonation.

Glad to finally get my hands on this. An excellent example of the style, although fresh it was very boozy and difficult to finish the bomber by myself. Would love to try one with a year or more on it to mellow out the alcohol.

Photo of cosmicevan
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a Limited Spring 2009 Release bottle.

A - Poured oil black with a dark-tan, creamy head that disappaited rather quickly but had semi-sticky lacing.

S - Complex dark exotic fruit blend (reminds me of a belgian dark), burnt chocolate and candy sweetness. Smells fantastic for a stout. Reminds me a bit of a Dopplebock.

T - Burnt, woody, chocolate. Touch of darker fruits. Very interesting and tasty/flavorful stout.

M - Somewhat flat feeling with a bit of an alcohol bite. Not as silky as some other stouts. Subtle, but even carbonation.

D - Very drinkable. Has a nice complex flavor. The strong content would prevent me from having a few, but one hits the spot just right.

Photo of jampics2
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Beer #3 of my 2010 Winking Lizard Beer Tour.

2008 vintage, 12 oz bottle.

Looks like the perfect stout. Black body, tan creamy head, looks great!

Aroma is molasses, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee.

Taste is back to basics RIS. Toasty, malty, molasses, chocolate, light coffee. Gets more and more flavorful as it warms and 'opens up'. The hops are very subdued in this vintage, aged bottle.

Mouthfeel is perfection. Silky, perfect body, great carbonation.

Alluring and delicious. A great 'standard'. Classic all around.

Photo of jiggahertz
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Angressive pour results in a minimal cocoa colored head sitting on top of a deep dark black beer. No light passing through at all. Head quickly dissipates, no lacing.

S: Getting a lot of chocolate on the nose at first, little malt. Disappears when the head is gone.

T: Wow, really surprised by the level of chocolate I can pick up in this. It definitely dominates the flavor profile.

M: full bodied and medium carbonation

D: Slightly bitter finish, doesn't last extremely long. Hides the alcohol extremely well for a beer of this strength.

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

Served on-tap at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, MD (12/31/09). Served in a 12oz. snifter at a slighty colder than desired temperature, but allowed to warm to cellar temp.

A: Pours a thick motor oil black with 1.5fingers of an espresso colored head with good retention and lacing.

S: rich aroma of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, and a tradiional hoppy Stone character throughout.

T: Roasted malt with dark chocolate and some bitter hops in the background. The finish brings the bitter hops out even more and lingers for a bit. Rich flavor profile which intenstifies in taste and complexity as the beer warms.

M: Full-bodied with a thick, oily mouthfeel and low creamy carbonation with a slight hoppy bite in the finish.

D: Great drinkabilty for a beer that is so complex and rich in every facet. The 10.5% abv is completely hidden and is a non-factor.

Overall I find this beer to certainly be in the top of Imperial Stouts and it's another fine offering from Stone. For a beer with as vast a distribution area, nothing at all hasbeen compromised. Highly Recommended.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,448 ratings.