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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,355 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,355
Reviews: 2,614
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 613
Gots: 1,676 | FT: 91
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: 7,355 | Reviews: 2,614 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jonziefle
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured completely black, moderately thick. Half-finger dark tan head that fades away to a thin coating relatively quickly. Some lacing, but nothing to write home about.

Smell: Smoky and syrupy sweetness hit the nose first. Black licorice and raisin flavors as well. Not as much of a chocolate or coffee type stout, this is big and boozy. The alcohol is just seeping out.

Taste: Sweet dark fruit/hop bite at the front, with smokey/burnt malts taking over from there. Not syrupy like the nose would suggest. The finish and the linger is almost completely smoke flavors. Good alcohol bite right in the middle.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and incredibly smooth. Just a hint of carbonation tingle. Strong alcohol, with a bite, but doesn’t seem as big as it actually is (10.8%)

Drinkability: A very nice RIS. Strong, but smooth at the same time. Taste wasn’t as complex as I would like and the nose wasn’t that appealing to me, but an overall great beer.

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

First when pouring the beer into a tulip glass from a twenty-two ounce bottle the head seemed to dissipate as the fluid levels increased. I was slightly discourage to see this, but then took a smell. And again a little more disappointment. The smell almost too light to pickup was not bad, but was nothing to bragging to your friends about. Tiny hints of espresso and chocolate arose from the glass. I tipped the glass took the first sip. Ah utter bliss! They say don't let looks decieve you and this holds true with this beer! Very rich in the dark chocolate flavor with a fair balance of espresso to break through the boldness of the chocolate, smooth carmal flavors that flow over the peripherals of the tongue and a superb syrupy finish that coats the mouth. Most definately a pleasant sipping beer for after dinner while watching TV or chating with friends.

Photo of cbarrett4
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip glass. Noticed a surprising lack of a head though there was some carbonation noticable in the beer once poured. The color is dark, almost completely opaque with minimal effervesence. Once the glass was brought to the nose, the joy began. This amazing brew displayed a burnt toffee, espresso, caramel, molasses, black currant, and prune nose. Imagine pouring a burnt espresso over a caramel and currant tart. Wow! The first sip was almost sheer horror! Your palate needs to be ready for this monster! But after our initial shock, the beer seemed to get better with each sip.

The palate is dominated by burnt espresso and coffee flavors with some caramel hints. The beer is weighty and rich without seeming too heavy. I would pair this with dessert, especially chocolate, or rich food such as game or stew. It is especially nice on its own.

I want to hate Stone Brewery because everybody I know raves about their beer, but I have to admit that their popularity is well deserved.

(Tasted Aug 24, 2009)

Photo of Duhast500
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a bark black and is complete opaque when held to the light with a think deep brown head. Some nice brown lacing.

The smell is a strong mocha coffee flavor. Some sweet roasted malt flavor with some kind of creamy chocolate flavor and a small hint of licorice.

The taste is a bit dark chocolate at first. Some slight maple flavor with a great roasty flavor as well. The beer begins to warm you some as each sip with the slight creamy flavor just toward the back end. Like any Stone beer I have had, this beer is full of flavor.

The feel of this beer is a bit strong with a high ABV. It does have a warming feel to it. It is medium bodied and goes down well. A fantastic beer.

Photo of tr4nc3d
3.18/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a 22oz Bomber into my Maudite Snifter

I have had a beer sitting in my cellar for about 2-3 months now and decided to pick another one up at the liquor store since I did not want to wait a year to review this beer.

Appearance is opaque black with a three inch mocha colored head that fades about on average. As the head fades it leaves a small amount of the mocha colored foam on top of the beer and on the edges of the beer. Very slight lacing is left behind on the sides of my glass.

Smell consist of chocolate, roasted malts,coffee beans, dark brown sugar, slight metallic smell, minerals, and some slight alcohol heat to it.

Some dark roasted malts upfront, leaning towards slight charred, I'm thinking the use of black malts. Dark unsweetened chocolate with a roasted coffee dry bitterness in the finish. This stout is a little on the harsh side if you ask me.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with minimal carbonation. Strong dry bitter finish with a slight alcohol heat in the throat and aftertaste.

I can see why people recommend aging this a year and that is definitely what I will be doing with my other bottle in my cellar. Hopefully it takes down the heat and mellows out. Until then, I do not recommend drinking this fresh.

Photo of DanielDanza
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at the Shepherd and the Knucklehead. This is one hell of a beer. Perhaps the best of its kind I have ever had. Superb mouthfeel, thick and chewy but not overpowering at all, almost like drinking a very fine espresso. Chocolate malts and coffee are very apparent. Really a world class RIS.

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

An awesome beer. I won't go into too much detail on the particulars with over a 1000 reviews and an 'A' rating, but I had to add my high rating to the mix.

This is the rare big beer perfectly in balance. Not to sweet, and not to bitter.

A top 10 beer for me.

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

Poured from a cellar temperature 355ml bottle into a snifter.

A - Black as night in the colour with a thick creamy tan head. Pours incredibly thick.

S - Rich roasted malts, with an edge of alcohol. Dark chocolate, with strong espresso coffee. Smoked and woody. There is also an underlying fruitiness, dark fruits, blackberries, blackcurrents, and grapes. Definitely an awful lot to the aroma, surprisingly complex.

T - Like with the aroma, roasted malts are prominent, delivering a heavy smoked sweetness. The taste of dark chocolate is obvious like with all good Imperials. Roasted coffee beans, and bitter cocoa. The finish is smooth with a hint of bitterness, and a mild taste of alcohol.

M - Smooth, thick and heavy. The texture is slick and oily, with a warming quality.

D - A great Imperial Stout. I''m starting to really appreciate what Gerg Koch has achieved with Stone, there are some fantastic beers available from the brewery and this is one of the best. Their Imperial Russian Stout is smooth and aromatic, with a perfect balance of flavours. Definitely a beer that has to be savored. There will be a few of these going into my cellar.

Photo of wl0307
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from a very good Britain-based beer shop, "Beers of Europe", through on-line order. Coming in a light brown, 12 Fl. Oz. slim bottle, "Limited Spring 2008 Release" and "Enjoy By 01.01.2013"; served cool in Hapkin's branded flower bulb-shaped sniffer.

A: jet black in colour, the carbonation is low and the dark khaki frothy head lasts pretty well.
S: so deep and complex and oily, the aroma is initially thickly treacle-ish and roasty, but the flowery hop aroma never falls far behind as much as the sour hints of coffee syrup, vanilla chocolates, licorice, chillies and super sweet & fat black dates. A swirl brings up the bouquet of American hops as well as some settled alc., sweet walnuts and sweet tobacco. Overall the aroma is quite heavy as the back label warns, but it's still enticing and manageable probably thanks to a good balance.
T: upfront comes a lubricating swallow of sweet black malts, treacle, sweet roast walnuts and black prunes, leading towards a lively aromatic flavour as of Chinese roasted walnut-date cake topped (bizarrely) with a little chocolate shaving; the creamy yet increasingly dry and bitter aftertaste of aromatic flowery hops replaces the fruitiness, roastiness, and creamy malts, rendering a truly chewy and surprisingly spicy mouthfeel to last until the very end along with a faint suggestion of banana-oil esters. A faint burn of alc. concludes each sip, but only just.
M&D: creamy soft on the carbonation, fulsome on the flavour while the alc. treads elegantly as a much lighter stout. I disagree with the back label's statement, as I don't feel any guilt/sin while tasting the ale, but I think it's to do with how mellow this bottled ale has turned into in less than a year's time~~ Compared with the other American RIS tasted recently (incl. Great Divide's Yeti, Flying Dog's Imperial Russian Porter, Left Hand's RIS, and Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout), I find this one the most balanced amongst them all, as the hops seem to have melted in the magical mixture. In many ways this is not unlike a balanced English RIS added with a bit more hop aroma+flavour - highly enjoyable.

Photo of Sweasty
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an inky black. Light tries in vain to penetrate the blackness. Its an act in futility. Crowning the blackness is a dark khaki head. The head falls to a ring, but leaves plenty of lace down the glass.

The aroma packs a wallop. Solid coffee and dark chocolate. Plenty of black strap molasses present as well. A light bit of fruitiness - black currents - rounds things out. As the beer warms noticeable solvent alcohol aromas show up as well.

The flavor is equally impressive. Loads of coffee waft over the tongue. Plenty of dark chocolate is present as well. Molasses soaked coffee beans and a hint of liquorice seem to round out the middle. As the beer warms up, the alcohol starts to show up. The finish packs plenty more roast, as well as a bit of a lingering herbal hop note.

The mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. The beer coats the tongue in velvety bliss. The carbonation is light but more than adequate for the job.

Man oh man is this one epic brew. Its a sipper to be sure. Loads of complexity await each delicious sip. Its very easy drinking upfront. The alcohol seems almost non existent. AS the beer warms up, the alcohol becomes much more prevalent. The last few sips definitely have an alcohol bite. All in all though this is still one incredible brew.

Photo of wknight167
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an intriguing, opaque black, with a slow forming one finger, beige head that doesn't stick around very long. The lacing stays.

S: Burnt coffee, and roast malts jump out. Hint of molasses.

T: Smoky, highly roasted coffeee is the first thing that comes to mind. Starts with a molasses like malty sweetness thats turns to a dark, bitter chocolate in the finish.

M: Low carbonation. Thick and deliciously syrupy.

D: Surprisingly high considering its thick and robust flavors.

Photo of Tomas77
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance-Deep brown almost black. Opaque. Small but thick creamy tan foam capping the beer underneath. Nice lace.
Aroma-Roasted coffee and chocolate followed by dark fruit and alcohol. Very complex.
Flavor-Dark fruit more closer to the front along with rich, sweet malt of roasted coffee(almost burnt, maybe tarry) with dark cherries and vanilla in there as well. Alcohol is evident throughout but is not hot. Nice balance between malt and hop. Hop bitterness in the finish but does not linger. Subdued roast bitterness in the finish also.
Mouthfeel-Full body. Chewy. Velvety feeling coats the tongue. Strong but smooth alcohol warmth. Medium carbonation. Dry finish.

Photo of fiver29
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07 vintage on tap pours a pitch black with some aroma - mostly a smell of hops. Has a nice head that laces the glass well. Complex hops and dark roast lend to a medium mouthfeel with a smooth roasty taste and long hop finish. I was a little surprised how the hops played a role in this. Will be interesting to try different years down the road. Nice brew.

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

A super dark color that I won't even call dark brown, it is just black. Three fingers of brown head that has good retention and leaves lots of great, sticky lace patterns on my glass.

The aroma is one that I would call intensely fruity for a stout, with notes of dark currents and dates. A big roasted aroma is there also, with coffee mixed. Alcohol is definitely noticeable.

Stone Russian Imperial Stout's intense flavors match the aroma pretty well. It is still a fruity stout with currents and dates, but the roasted flavors are equally (if not more) powerful in the flavor. I notice a note of vanilla in there also. First comes fruits, then a touch of vanilla and the roasted flavors. In the finish coffee comes through and is paired with some hop bitterness. A touch of alcohol is in there too. The aftertaste features mostly choclate and roasted malt.

The mouthfeel is creamy, thick, full, great for the style. It seems to coat the roof of your mouth, but still maintains a moderate amount of carbontion.

Overall a very good stout, one that I have tried numerous times and only reviewed now. Great for the price too.

Photo of bobjonesSD
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Ah the Stone IRS. Despite living in San Diego I had yet to try this one - I stopped by a small liquor store in Del Mar and noticed they had a pretty reasonable selection of craft brews including several bottles of this. Having looked for it before at Bevmo and been rebuffed I decided to give it a try.

I was in general quite pleased with this beer - poured form the bottle into a delirium noel snifter. I particularly liked the nice thick mouthfeel and creaminess. Altogether a very nice beer.

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

2008 and 2009 back to back in Aug. 2009

Pours black with no transparency and a brown fizzy head that quickly goes away. Smell is as expected with a nice roasted smell with hints of coffee and chocolate.

Taste for 2008. Much more mellowed out than the 2009. Very smooth with no alcohol burn. It has definitely lost some taste with the age on it, but has gained a smoothness that makes it much easier to drink.

Taste for 2009. This is awesome! Everything(roasted malts, hops, chocolate and coffee tastes) is very present. This has a lot going on fresh, what a RIS should taste like IMO.

Mouthfeel is typical for a bigger stout I would say, meaning there is a sticky, lingering body to it rather than a crisp, watery feeling. A great beer all around.

Photo of ralree
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: Completely black, nice lacing, small 1-finger head.

S: Vanilla, yeast, caramel, brown sugar.

T: Smokey like a campfire, brown sugar has a nice sweetness, bitter hop flavor is very strong - very fresh. Alcohol is strong, but manageable.

M: Thick and syrupy, heavy body. Oily after swallowing. Carbonation low, as it should be for the style.

D: Hard to put down as its very thick and filling. Strong flavors make it hard to drink lots of.

Photo of botham
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the brewpub in Escondito. pours pitch black with faint amber highlights and little to no head.

aroma is rich and roasted with undertones of earthy, smokey, roasted malts. a bit of vanilla plays off of the roasted malt. a bit of coffee shows as well as the brew warms a bit. concentrated and rich in the nose.

taste is roasted and a bit earthy with some alcoholic sharpness. chocolate and a bit of coffee with some vanilla as well. nicely composed with a very rich and warming profile.

mouthfeel is full bodied, rich and warming. just what a good RIS should be on the palate.

drinkability is good. the alcohol is apparent, but not overpowering. a solid RIS through and through. cheers!

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


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.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,355 ratings.