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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,399 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,399
Reviews: 2,620
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 642
Gots: 1,710 | FT: 94
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: 7,399 | Reviews: 2,620 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WalrusJockey
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
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
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
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
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
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
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
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
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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

22oz bottle

Pours almost black in color with a large brown head. Big, burnt, toasty malt nose, vanilla cream, chocolate, some coffee and light alcohol presence. Smooth and super creamy, its amazing the quality of ingredients used while still keeping a 5.99 shelf price. A little more body wouldnt hurt, i guess it just doesnt feel as big as it is...or should be...if that makes any sense. Amazing beer none the less, although this is my first time reviewing this beer ive had the past 3 years fresh and the 2009 vintgage is the best ive had. Great job Stone. Go buy a couple bottles asap.

Photo of philipquarles
1.87/5  rDev -56.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Spring 2009 release. Pours a used-motor-oil black with a creamy dark beige/light brown head that disappears to leave a bit of lacing. Smells of Drambuie-soaked raisins, dates, and other dark fruits, as well as a load of chocolate and some brown sugar. It would be pleasant if it weren't overpoweringly boozy. The more it warms, the worse it gets. More cocoa and dark fruits in the taste, and again, loads of alcohol. The initial chocolaty sweetness turns to intense bitterness from heavy hopping. Slightly astringent as well. Warming alcohol-laden finish. Thick body with nice carbonation. Too intensely boozy to be very drinkable. This might have the potential to be nice after a couple of years, but a fresh bottle tastes like chocolate macerated in port with a few dabs of soy sauce added for good measure. Poured half the bomber down the drain.

Photo of MusicmanSD
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

All this review should say is: HOLY F@#K, but I'll elaborate. This is by far the most looked forward to beer of the year for me, and lemme tell ya, the difference between bottle and cask makes this even rape harder even more. My first cask-conditioned beer, and wow, I was drunk halfway through my glass. This HAS to be stronger than the bottle! HAS TO BE! Slightly absurd! Felt nitro-y as well, VERY creamy and smooth, bitter, and alcoholy at the same time, but it blends oh so perfectly. Hard to scoff down, but it is one beast of a beer. Drink a chalice and you are DONE.

Photo of erz316
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1pt 6 floz bomber into Sam S. pint glass. Limited spring 2009 release.

A - a beautiful pour, big foamy light brown head, pitch black body that is 100% opaque. Head settles down at a quick pace, leaving a copius corona of lace around the inside of the glass. the increase in head is of great appeal, and makes it look more appetizing that the rasputin.

S - smells malty-chocolate with a prick of alcohol. slight sweet molasses like scent. the dark malts are the most abundant, though the whole is not overpowering. I can see where they're going with the anise and black current, but I cannot distinctively point them out.

T - hot damn thats a good beer! the smoothness is ridiculous for a 10.5 abv brew! initial tastes are of alcohol, and the coffee-choco combination that dark beers can get. the coffee-choco combination is first on the palate and then the booze rushes in, like Raskolnikov with his axe unto the unsuspecting pawnbroker. on further analysis the alcohol is something that I think inevitably hold back the beer; the brew is good to drink, then you do not notice the alcohol, but when one keeps the beer in his mouth for a sustained period of examination the alcohol becomes a detriment, albeit a slight one, but the taste is quite powerful once it comes out. the finish is boozy, fluctuating with the coff-olate flavour; the end ihas the booze relegated to my lips, with the bitterness being more pervasive on the actual palate.

MF&D - the feel is a bit thin for how much ass this beer can kick; I would have it thicker. the drinkability is brought down by the alcohol pervasiveness, once I had found it there was no losing it out of. the carbonation is small, fizzy carbonation on the tip of my tongue

Photo of mplum
4.82/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the best Imperial Stouts that I have ever had. That is saying a lot, given that I have tried dozens from many different lands. Color is opaque, smell is very alcoholic. It is very drinkable, but don't have too many- you may wake up in someone's bed that you don't even know (and trust me, she/he will not be to your standards)!

Photo of lackingfocus
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this as part of a Stone-sponsored tasting recently. We were given the pleasure of the fresh 2009 edition as well as some well-cellared vintage from 2006 and 2007. The overall review is as follows:

A: A gorgeous earthy black, completely opaque without any hint of cloudiness. Pours a very minimal head with light lacing.

S: Amazing! Smoked chocolate with a notable aroma of hops. I could sniff this stuff all day.

T: Just like it smells. The '09 was a hoppier edition, and I have no complaints about that. But all give that wonderful smoky chocolate flavor that defines this stout.

M: Shockingly light and pleasant! For such a rich, flavorful beer, there's none of that "stickiness" that can drag the tongue down. The '09 especially is lighter and crisper than the vintages.

D: A very drinkable stout. Let your own preference and tolerance determine what that means to you.

Overall, this is a great beer that cellars well. The smoky flavor in particular is more notable in the older vintages, whereas "fresher" editions are hoppier, crisper, and a bit lighter on the tongue.

Photo of champ103
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque black. No light penetrates at all. A tan head of over two fingers forms with good retention. Not much lace to speak of though.
S: Roasted and sweet malt. Smoke, coffee, and a bit of chocolate. Black liquorish.
T: A huge roasted malt flavor. Coffee and slightly bitter chocolate. A bit of sweetness. A light hop flavor as the taste lingers. This is very decadent.
M/D: A full body that is low on the carbonation end. Thick and syrupy. For the high ABV this drinks really smooth. The alcohol is noticeable, but just enough to warm the belly. A great beer to sip and savor.

I have had this several times now. Each time is a treat. Highly recommended.

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

This one pours an intensely deep black with hints of mahogany around the bottom of the glass. A massive light brown head sits nicely and laces the glass.

A nutty, smoky aroma full of burnt walnuts and a heavy dose of burnt malt just saturate your senses.

Holy sweetness batman! This is a surprising sweet stout, with the sugary flavor starting right up. There are very smoky notes shortly behind the sweetness, and a deep malty flavor that just takes over the aftertaste. There are woodsy flavors like oak and nutmeg.

Slightly less imposing of a mouthfeel than I expect from a heavy stout. Instead of being thick and heavy, it is rather light and crisp.

Delicious beer that begs to be drank all the time. I have got to say, I have been craving an RIS for a while and this one has done the trick.

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

A-Black as night. Beautiful. Thin copper head that dissipated quickly. Gorgeous lacing than hangs around to watch you drink.

S-Strong, but not as intense as I thought it would be. Chocolate, a bit of coffee, currants, dates, licorice. Nice nose.

T-An all out assault on the palate. Everything in the nose bombards the tongue with a delicious maltiness to boot. The alcohol isn't even noticeable.

M-Smooth, creamy and silky while punching you in your face at the same time. Incredible.

D-For such a big beer, this is highly drinkable. I want to drink another right now, but I must (tells self, you really must!) age a few of these.

2009 is another great year for the Stone IRS.

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

Pretty black all the way with nice big frothy head that settles to a near complete covering of khaki and cream colored foam.

Smells of vanilla, chocolate, marzipan, licorice whips and, surprisingly, only a hint of alcohol.

As soon as it hits my tongue I get the alcohol impression, the only olfactory impression I get while I have the beer in my mouth is booze. If I exhale as I take a sip I can get rich chocolate, maybe raisin, finishes a little more fruity, dark fruit, dates, raisins, some licorice and burnt caramel. Drying bitter hoppiness asserts at the tail end.

Full, but not syrupy texture; nice carbonation that keeps it creamy and smooth for the most part.

From what I see, this beer is probably too hot for most people to fully enjoy when its fresh, but I think it's just fine now... maybe a couple months age would do it good, but less than a year for sure.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours very thick, a dark, dark opaque brown, with a rising head of incredibly fine brown bubbles, about the colour of chocolate shavings. Lacing is insane: tiny intricate patterns making a miniature Jackson Pollock print on the inside of my glass. Hell yes, what an amazing looking beer.

Wonderful roasted chocolate notes on the nose, big, rich and sweet, but with lightly smoky notes of wood-fired barbeque, burnt toffee, coffee bean and an odd light ozone character. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing. Very raw and fresh, full of body and attitude, but also just plain tasty.

Smooth and slick mouthfeel is what I notice initially, thick and shiny like melting high-fat icecream. The taste is deliciously bittersweet, full of rich high-cocoa chocolate, mocha coffee and toffee. Only later do the true carbonised characters come through, with a black, high-roast character just lingering on the edges of the palate. Just so damn smooth, rich, sweet and delicious.

Hell yes, what a delicious beer. A rip-roaring RIS that is also a delicious treat. Raw, but refined. Heavy, but smooth. A perfect balancing act, showcasing the art of the Imperial Stout. Bravo!

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

Bomber... poured into large Duvel tulip glass.

Dark black color.. thick and syrupy with large amount of purplish/pink head. Perfect in terms of appearance.

Smell is very complex.. sweet alcohol, cocoa, dates, raisins, and coffee.

Taste is powerfully sweet.. a mix of molasses, cocoa and dark fruit. Alcohol burn is felt only slightly for such a high powered beverage. Finishes very rich with a twinge of bitterness.

Very thick, creamy and silky mouthfeel. Drinkability is pretty damn good, but I don't think I'd really want more than a bomber of this at a sitting.

An excellent beer.. one of the better Imperial Stouts I've had the privilege of trying.

Photo of Onslow
3.56/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

..and i don't like the contraction, apostrophe E-M,..as far as i am concerned his name is "Dig Them". You're not welcome here, Dig Them ... Pours a darkest of the dark brown-black , with a fantastic hearty dark coco head, big with great lacing .. . wow, so easy to drink, the abv is so well hidden , great roast level and a balance that is hard to beat!.. . for a pretty widely available RIS, this is fan-freakin-frakin-flippin-sex orgy in the living room-tastic!!!.. . Aromas include sharp molasses, dark coco chocolate, light alcohol, maduro tobacco leave, dark dark hard wood .. . has really distracted me from the Dig 'em fiasco! .. . . This could get you in trouble with its super smoothness, but it maybe lacks abit of complexity for me, there are definitely better Imperial Stouts, but at the somewhat decent price and availability, i can see why people talk... . I will also say, i bought a couple of bottles, and plan on re-rating after a year.. . .. You just got dunked on by Patrick Chewing!

Photo of rayjay
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage poured in my Stone RIS goblet

Pours deep black, simmering like it has an air stone.

Aroma is dominated by fresh leather and rubbing alcohol. Makes a point, is unique, but there are certainly better.

After 2 years the hops are very smooth and mellow, and the malts are the stars. Everything has definitely smoothed out. Very strong leather and rubbing alcohol flavors, though. Some mild toffee.

Mouthfeel is nicely carbed and isn't too sticky. For a beer of this size it's pretty easy to tackle.

Although alcohol catches up with you it's got drinkability since it's a bold brew. East-coast like. Very good, but I have other favorites. Cheers!

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

Poured from a bomber into my Sam Adams glass.

Spring 2008 Release.

A - Very attractive brown oily color. With a tan head that was about 1 in maybe less and left a mat with minimal lacing.

S - Sweet maltiness is present at first then a very prompt and striking smokey and roasted smell. No hops. The nose isn't as present some alcohol as well.

T - As it warms the roasted malt is ever so present. Hints of mild coffee almost with a hazelnut feel to it. A bit of sweetens with a subtle alcohol warmness afterward. As it warms when you roll it on the tongue the alcohol can be very well represented.

M - full bodied, oily and very fulfilling. Low carbonation.

D - Surprisingly high for the style but maybe not as much due to the ABV. Still very nice brew.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,399 ratings.