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.

7,289 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,289
Reviews: 2,601
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 586
Gots: 1,632 | FT: 96
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: 7,289 | Reviews: 2,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DookDrinkyCrow
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have heard alot about Stone Brewing Co. I searched for this beer and finally found it for 5.99 for a 22 ounce bomber. The 2008 edition.

It has a very dark, smooth appearance. The aroma is great, with coffee and chocolate. The most amazing is the roasted malt, the smell is almost as good as the taste.

This beer is great. Very sophisticated and hearty. A high alcohol content helps boost this beer above the rest.

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

22oz bomber from the Spring 2009 release.

A - Pours a completely opaque black with a creamy looking, brown head. Retains a nice thin cap of a head throughout drinking, and leaves subtle lacing.

S - Very rich smell dominated by sweet, roasted malts. There are tones of coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit in the aroma. Slight hoppiness coming through in the background with just a hint of alcohol as well.

T - Roast coffee is the first flavor i noticed, followed by rich chocolate and dark, dried fruit flavors(perhaps raisins or maybe even prune). Very sweet, but balanced with a nice bitter hoppiness that comes through in the finish, along with a warming alcohol presence. Slight smoky character to the flavor as well. Complex and delicious.

M - Rich, full-bodied, creamy and smooth.

D - Very drinkable, especially considering the 10.5% abv. Absolutely delicious with a complex flavor profile and a great balance that manages to be a monster on the malt side of things without being overly sweet. While it probably wouldn't be a great idea to put down more than one bomber of this, I thought it was stellar in all aspects.

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

I have been pleased with the offerings from Stone that I have been able to try, but even with high expectations, this was a pleasure to drink.

First off, I have not really been able to give high marks for smell for most beers. Allergies and perhaps a less perceptive nose to blame, I suppose. However, this beer comes on strong, giving very clear scents of dark roast coffee, dark chocolate, and a sweet maltiness that makes me think "yeah! this is the real deal!". If you are normally very perceptive in this category, this beer might kill you.

The appearance is as a RIS should be: opaque, black with dark brown color at the very edges of the glass, and a dark brown head. The best part is in the tasting, however, and does not disappoint. Strong sweetness, dark coffee and chocolate richness, and a little bite of hops in the finish, barely drying it out. A truly massive tasting beer.

Mouthfeel is usually a category where beers lose out with me, but this one has a nice creamy, smooth, yet very big feel to it. I can see why some folks pursue the best of the best of this style with such passion. I would definitely drink this again.

Drinkability is high for such a strong beer. 1 is definitely enough for the night (I could only buy this in 22oz bottles), but I want to drink more of this, even knowing it is overwheming my taste buds already.

Great beer. I will definitely welcome having this in my house again.

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

Nice RIS! Just can't be much better than that

appearance: deep dark black, pure ebony, loaded head and creamy froth.

smell: nice hop touch, and slight chocolate aromas

taste: rich and heavy chocolate roasted flavors but had a smooth rich taste, sweet aftertaste and pleasant, nice hop presence for a stout, goes great with dark bitter chocolate

mouthfeel: thick, creamy, good carbonation and very tasty

drinkability: One of the top imperial stouts out there. Loved and will drink again

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

Limited Spring 2009 release. Pours pitch black even when held to the light, tan head. Smell: soft and sweet, something like a liquor soaked chocolate cake, black plum, roasty, caramel, a bit of coffee, effervescent alcohol. Not as pungent as some ris, but very nice. Taste: this one is pretty hot at 10.5. The booze and a bunch of sweet, syrupy malts are cut with a pretty serious hop note... roasty, unsweet chocolate, anise, dark chocolate. Rich viscous mouthfeel. Will need to grab a couple to sit until the cold(er) months.

Photo of brundo4
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. Brown bomber into snifter-style burgundy glass. Small head forms just after one is finished pouring. Espresso in color. Dissipates almost instantly. Ring of lacing around glass. Very sticky. Brew is jet black. This some serious stout. I've had the pleasure of its company once before and am glad to have it with me once again.

Sweet scent on the nose. Carmel, molasses, chocolate and coffee come through strongly. Also a very apparent malty smokiness, as well as a subtle yeast scent. A bit of cola floating in there as well as nuts, oak, and some soil and general earthiness. The inviting quality of this stout's smell is really absurd.

Upon first taste, coffee rushes immediately to the front. Then chocolate followed by a nutty bitterness. A very smoky, earthy flavor. This is one delicious beer. Good God. Great balance of flavors. A definite chocolate/coffee dominance but as the beer warms on the palate a subtle blending and balance is slowly cultivated. This stout is exemplary.

Thick, smooth mouthfeel. Like a great massage on the tongue. Feels like you could chew it and hold on. Deep, rich body. Complex, layered sensations.

This beer is remarkably drinkable. The stout of all stouts, I feel compelled to sing its praises. Not a sessionable choice by any means, this stout is certainly a meal. Sip slowly or with great vigor, this beer will flood your senses any way you attempt to engage with it.

Photo of hoplover82
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting for this one get to Tx for a while. It's finally here!!!

A-Pours pitch black with a beautiful thick coffee colored creamy head that has pretty good retention and nice uniformed rings of lacing.

S-I smell loadfulls of roasted barley and strong toffee notes too. Then it turns into a beautiful bouket of chocolate and coffee wofting into my nose. Very nice balance in the aroma. Mmmm, after it warms a little, some licorice notes come into play.

T-The flavor is pretty staight foward with bitter sweet chocolate and roasty malty goodness. Not complex but very good.

M-Man, I don't think the mouthfeel could be any better. It's soooo creamy and full bodied. In no way is this beer harsh because of the abv, it's a little hot but it's not "hot" perse.

D-Very smooth drinking for a beer of this stature. Please, if you can, treat yourself to this wonderfully brewed ale. You won't be dissapointed. But don't drink too much, it sneeks up on you...

Photo of Liquids
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

On vacation in NYC, treated myself to a bottle of this over everything else available at Whole Foods in NYC, especially as no Stone over the border in CT, and it should be amazing. I let it warm to room temperature to get the full experience in the evening when I'm back in the room.

Great looking bottle, pours a thick and syrupy (for a liquid) pitch black. Head is creamy and darker brown hue. Aroma is sweetish molasses, charred malts, and alcohol.

Taste - a disappointment. Sure I like big beers too, but this is just straight up boozy. Everything else is an afterthought to my tongue. Plenty of malt flavor behind the booze, and some hops which are more so dominated by the alcohol. Trying it later after chilling it, the booze is present but less so, with more hop flavor, but still boozy. It's hard to imagine anyone likes this so much except that they like the *idea* of drinking bigger darker thicker beer and enjoy the sensation of alcohol burning the tongue and nose.

Mouthfeel is good and thick. Drinkable? This has to be the least drinkable beer I've tried for those that I could get down...no one I know who likes drinking good beers would think this was worth any amount of money but to get drunker faster. I drink for the flavor, so this is a disaster. I finished it as cold as I could get it over a few days, a small glass a day--all I could stand. Surprisingly, Victory Imperial Stout is hands down better in my book...this wouldn't make it into my glass again unless it were free. Stone is not for me.

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

This brew pours smooth and tastes even better. It is an extremely smooth drinking beer. Possibly the best stout that I have ever tasted.
Appearance: Pitch black. No light can get through this.
Smell: The smell is very light. Distinct, but not overpowering.
Taste: Unbelievable! The thickness in the pour really comes through in the taste. Ok. Maybe that goes into the mouthfeel category. So, I will combined them. The rich malt blend flows smoothly over the tounge. It only has a very slight bite at the finish. I really would not know that it was 10.5% if it wasn't on the label.

Photo of sirdrinkwell
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: dark, black with fair tan head like any respectable stout

smell: freshly poured, this is actually not a very aromatic drink...nevertheless, smooth dry chocolate is certainly apparent and almost a slight whiff of nuts

taste: jackpot! extremely smooth, belying the 10.5% alc content. this is a rewarding trip to the chocolate factory with a rich chocolately aftertaste bearing only a minimal hint of the alcohol contained therein.

mouthfeel: very pleasant, smooth and refeshing yet dry at the same time.

drinkability: very accessible taste and mouthfeel make this an entirely drinkable brew that i will certainly return to soon, thumbs up thrice!

Photo of GJ40
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled from a 12oz bottle in my DFH snifter. Purchased from Sam's in Durham, NC. The bottle says it's a "Limited Spring 2008 Release" so it's had some time to mature.

A - A deep, dark black with no light coming through. A small tan head that dissipates quickly. This one has a real ominous look about it.

S - Lots of chocolate with some roasted malt, coffee and a touch of alcohol. Very nice.

T - A nice roasted, dry flavor with lots of character and a mild lingering bitterness. Despite the enormity of this beer, it's about as balanced as they get. There's nothing harsh about it. And the 10.8% alcohol is well hidden.

M - It starts thick and chewy but it ends with a very light and airy feel; as if it's evaporating in your mouth. The carbonation is low and very fine.

D - This is a great beer to savor. It's got a huge kick but it's so smooth and easy to drink.

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

Picked up a 22oz. bomber from Midtown Wine & Spirits off Church St. in Nashville. Spring 2009 edition.

A: Pours a dark black color. Almost looks like soda. About an inch of brown head that disappears slowly and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Looks good.

S: Smells like malts, chocolate and coffee. There's a whole lot going on here. Kinda hard to point them all out.

T: Heavy. Tastes like chocolate, coffee, caramel, etc. Tons of flavors going on. Tastes really good. Slight alcohol bite in the finish.

M: Thick and heavy. Lightly carbonated. Leaves a dry alcohol taste on the tongue.

D: Surprisingly drinkable considering the 10.8% abv. Would never be able to make it through two bottles though.

Lives up the hype. Not an everyday beer whatsoever but absolutely worth a try.

Photo of lonestar4lunch
3.55/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

All the hype, all the rumors and here it is in Austin. Splitting a 22oz bomber with a buddy, good call. Pours black as the night with no stars or no moon. Smells of malts, chocolate and alcohol. Taste is smooth to start with but then look out. There is a sweetness that lingers but the alcohol is there... and you get reminded every sip. This is a big beer and it lets you know. I enjoyed it as a big sipper, was fun while I had it.

Photo of DwnTwnBwn
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Served at a local bar in a stone goblet. Black with a coffee creme head.

S. Strong alcohol presence, huge roasted malt with oak and vanilla.

T. Its a warmer. the roasted notes assault your tongue. finished very sweet.

M. Thick mouth coating, sticky sweet, warming alochol.

O. Amazing beer, the time does amazing things for this beer.

Photo of allengarvin
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This extremely dark beer features a small but persistent head and some modest lacing. The aroma consists of lightly roasted, dark chocolate notes, with hints of cocoa powder. Excellent flavor, deliciously malty but never sweet, and highly bitter without bitterness being the dominant flavor. The taste mostly mirrors the aroma, but is richer and very smooth. The body is surprisingly light for the strength--a plus, since the heaviness of many RIS's is why I'm not a big fan of the style. Very well crafted, like nearly everything Stone has done.

Photo of WalrusJockey
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spring 09 into snifters.

A- one of those rare, really-truly black beers. Head is thin and the color of the the crema (foam) on top of really good coffee.

S- chocolate and roast, with caramel and a hint of alcohol in the background. Mouthwatering, honestly.

T- light opening flavor fades into a dusty sweetness of roasty malt. Swallow is dry dark chocolate, followed by a very bitter bite which is directly alongside the alcohol bite, all of which fades together into a dry, dark chocolate aftertaste.

M- satisfying and creamy, but not thick, cloying or syrupy.

D- over-all, low. For the style, fairly high, I suppose, as this is a low-drinkability style.

Notes- RIS isn't my favorite style, I don't like alco-pops, or unballanced malt- or hop- bombs. But for what it is, this is very well done and very enjoyable. Would definitely buy again, though I wouldn't mind the price being cheaper.

EDIT: A+ seems a bit high, to me, but a very firm A is right on the money. I don't feel like monkeying with the scores to bring the over-all down, though.

Better a bit cooler, IMO. As it warms up the alcohol flavor becomes more of a factor and less of a background note.

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

Spring '09 bomber

A- Wow, this is the most impressive looking beer I have ever seen. The head is so big that it has a cascading effect if you pour it right. The beer is super dark brown and looks black in the glass. The bubbly foam on top also sports a latte-brown hue and sticks around long enough to enjoy while I sip away on an 11oz portion from my dimpled mug. Leaves great lacing on my mug, which is rare.

S- Big loads of roasted malts and alcohol with background scents of bread, yeast and honey. Cleaning solution comes to mind but more like chocolate-flavored cleaning solution.

T- Flavors of roasted malts all over the spectrum from bitter black coffee to chocolate to pretzel to dark fruits and caramel. Hops don't contribute much more than bitterness but do offer a few flavors of herbs and pine.

M- Thick. This beer is viscous and chewy. There is a bit of chalk-like pastiness to it that adds a feeling of decadence.

D- Truly worth the hype. I was expecting something kingly and was not disappointed.

Photo of gonzo46and2
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours dark as hell. Viscous motor oil. Dark brown coffee colored head with big fluff and lace.

Aroma is dark chocolate, coffee, and licorice

Taste is just about perfect for an RIS. Licorice and chocolate come through right away with coffee on the back end.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth and creamy. Nice and heavy on the palate.

Drinkability is pretty nice for such a big sipper.

Photo of natelocc787
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Peanut butter colored head with maple syrup highlights over a black body. Retention is very good and the lacing is outstanding. The beer is opaque and very attractive.

The nose is RIS all the way. Roasted malt and toasted burnt grains. Chocolate, espresso, vanilla, hops and carmelized maple syrup.

First thing I notice is this RIS possesses a flavor character that others do not. Fudgy cocoa, vanilla, roasted coffee beans. Dark semi-sweet chocolate is dominant with a marshmallow flavor. Holy shit the graham cracker is there too it's a f**king smores stout! Coffee liquor in the finish with a flash of whiskey.

Moderately chewy, heavy and somewhat creamy.

Had the 2009 version again in 2010, hasn't improved and found it less impressive. Good RIS but not great. Lacking complexity compared to others in it's class.

Photo of Gish
3.63/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Limited Spring 2009 release. Poured into a snifter.

Pours black with a long-lasting tan head. The smell is of roasted grain, booze, and espresso.

The taste initially is of rich and bitter coffee. However, the hops and alcohol come with a vengeance. I definitely get a bready aftertaste I usually only detect in regular stouts. It's interesting, but far from the most enjoyable RIS I've had.

Stone RIS has a very thick and syrupy mouthfeel. I almost detect the mythical 'chewy' aspect I've heard about. However, it goes down much easier than I figured. The second most drinkable RIS I've had for sure.

Less complex than I expected, and much more drinkable than I thought it would be. A great beer, but I question its really high ratings. I suspect aging would do wonders. If I see it again at the great price I found this one at I might put one down myself.

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

'09 Vintage

this brew pours up a clear pale yellow color. Just joshin. this brew is solid black with a decent light brown head. decent lacing on this mutha sucka. the nose is a lil bit too much alky, some yeast, chocolate, coffee. I taste big malts, total roastiness, cocoa, again coffee, nice hop balance and bitterness in the finish. full bodied and low to medium carbo. A lil too hot and a little too bitter to be in my top stouts list but definitely a solid ale.

Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009. I was stoked to find this.

Nose is creamy with chocolate, soft ripe fruit, and some roast. Nut-like savoriness. Dry powdery chocolate. Smells pretty good.

Pours pitch black, moderate head with fairly quick retention. Looks good.

Major tones of chocolate and coffee atop much milder malt bed. Velvety smooth with luscious richness. Well done Stone. Some tart fruitiness, bright like green grapes yet dark and sugary like ripe red grapes. Mild bitterness takes on a roasted character. Finishes slightly dry/charred and slightly nutty/oily. Tastes quite good. Feels quite good. Good drinkability.

Very dark, smooth, creamy, rich, roasted, etc... Everything A RIS should be and then some. There must be a whole field's worth of barley in each bottle. Although it doesn't pour as thick as Siberian Crude, it is nicely thick. If you pass up a chance to try this you're a fool. You wanted my opinion, as you're reading my review. I'm sure the Stone gargoyle would tell you the same thing. Most impressive score with 1,437 reviews; I hope Stone is proud.

I would gladly pay double for another (some other day (it's heavy)).

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

spring 2009 release
served in tall flute

a: dark brown head, thick and creamy, not great retention. deep opaque black color, no visible light through it

s: strong roasted malt aromoa, sweet and chocolate

t: dark sweet coffee ice cream flavor. bitterness stands up well.

mf: thick but balanced, not overly sweet

d: good drinkability for such a big RIS

A world class beer.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber (2009) into a Delirium tremens tulip.

Stone's IRS pours an opaque, pitch black body that traps any escaping light like a vacuum. The modest head quickly retreats to a thin collar of espresso-brown bubbles, tightly packed and slow to rise through the murky liquid upon a tilt of the tulip. Strong, roasted chocolate aromas emanate from the surface, backed by a floral perfume of earthy hops and loads of dark fruit. Licorice, chocolate liquor, and brown sugar noted as well.

Clearly a standard for the style, this beauty of a Russian Imperial would have made the Czar's blush. Thick, chewy notes of dark chocolate brownie batter blend with roasted malt grains and spiced rum. Finishes with a spicy linger of musty hops, and more dark chocolate booziness. Thick mouthfeel is viscous and chewy, becoming somewhat sticky at times. A year or two in the cellar should definitely improve the body, whose drinkability is lowered due to its behemoth nature. Still, Stone's IRS is a worthy addition to their line-up, and a fantastic beer on the whole.

Photo of Onenote81
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage 12oz bottle.

Poured into my snifter a deep coal black with very little tan head on top. No lacing present. Smells of cocoa and roasted coffee. Very inviting.

Mouthfeel was nice and crisp. Almost a little too spritzy. Yet, this had a mellow creaminess that aided drinkablilty. Flavor was of roasted cocoa beans, wood, alcohol, espresso, and finished slightly charred. This was a very good brew. Dang. Perfect blend of flavor and mouth. Drinkable - freaking spot on. The alcohol, though not present to the tongue, is knocking me down some. I feel good. Nice work Stone.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 7,289 ratings.