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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: 1,675 | 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 barleywinefiend
3.83/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my man Adam back in WA for hooking me up with my first vintage's) Stone IRS.
2008 12oz
Poured a deep, ddep brown almost like burn motor oil with good carbonation and big thick brown head. Nose is deep roasted malts, cocoa, espresso and a skunk soured twinge. Taste is big roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is medium with a big burnt taste and ABV is more noticable to me.

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

Enjoyed in a snifter.

A: Four fingers of huge, bubbly, super active tan head. Jet black brew. Head takes a while to dissipate, and though it eventually does, a nice ring retains. Tons of lacing.
S: Huge coffee, dark chocolate malts. Roasty notes. Deeper pulls reveal notes of alcohol, dark fruit, and berry esters. Warm and inviting on the nose.
T: A wallop of booze. The alcohol has a major, dominating presence at first. Eventually this characteristic mellows out with warmth. Coffee and chocolate are present alongside big roasted flavors. Caramel comes out as well. I can discern the slightest hop presence, but it's very minor behind the sweet malts and alcohol.
M: Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Tons of bitter and boozy residuals left behind.
D: This is a big beer that goes well with dessert. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside. A great sipper!

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

2009 Limited Spring release, 10.5% Alc. 22oz. Bomber poured into a tumbler slightly heavily.

- Nice mocha head that took awhile to rise from the thick oily black and brown can't see through stoutiness..

- Roasted malt, chocolate, bit of ester.. alc. scent. Slight candied scent w/ vanilla or almond extractishness...

- Warm chocolate.. great roasty strength... they say licorice.. I say no.... just a candied vanilla chocolate roast of a stout.. very rich and strong.

- Little bit dry... only very slightly chewy.. overall very good.

- A bit heavy for major drinking... and warm on the gut... but overall quite good for a 10.5% Stout.

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

2009 release
Poured into my new tulip. Very dark black with a big foamy light brown head that sticks around for a little with leaving some moderate lacing.
Smells nice, Nice smooth malty aromas, getting some dark fruits, raisins, fig, and plum, also some chocolaty aromas as well, and just a touch of roastiness.
Taste very similar to smell. At first I taste those wonderful dark fruit flavors and then smooth chocolates. Also some roasted barley and then nice warming alcohol to finish it out.
Very smooth and creamy feels very nice.
This is a very balanced brew all the flavors blend together nicely and hardly and alcohol detected. Very nice brew.

Edit: As this brew warms up the alcohol is becoming more and more evident making it a touch less desirable. I'm sure this would be alot better with some age on it.

Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Limited spring 2008 release

22 0z bomber poured into a Stone Brewery pint glass.

Been a few months since I popped one of these, and I was starting to get the itch.

A - Poures jet black with a two finger dark tan head. Head fades at a fairly quick, but not to fast, pace leaving a small amount of lace that follows to the bottom. Very nice.

S - Roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of some dark fruits.

T - Taste pretty much follows the nose for me; however, I know this one is much more complex than my reprehensible taste buds can detect. With that out of the way, this one ends with a dark chocolate tone. The alcohol is very well hidden, considering the abv, until the beer starts to warm a little. Then the beer reminds you about the abv..

M - Goes down real smooth, when cold. A definite full body.

D - Believe the hype, this one is pretty good. Was my favorite beer for a while. With only 2 left, i'm not looking forward to running out.


Had a chance to make it to Stone Brewery when they were having a ten year line up. Got there a little late so i didn't get a chance to taste the 00's or the 01's, but of the rest of the years I tasted, I really enjoyed the 02's (Really smooth)and 05's (Real nice chocolate tones). The 07's are also really good.


Photo of jmz62565
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with a giant chocolate tan foamy head. The head lasts and leaves great lacing. Very impressive. The smell is pungent with dark fruit,raisins,plums,figs,alcohol,and cocoa. The taste is very creamy,like a chocolate shake,with cocoa,alcohol,dark fruit,roasted malt,and espresso. The m/f is heavy with all the flavors mixing very well. A great beer,one the best I've had in a long time.

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

Got a growler of one of the best beers I've tried in the last few months. Poured into Imperial pint glasses.

A- Opaque black body with a perfect, sandy head. Lacing all the way down the glass.

S- Smoky coffee, chocolate.

T- Dark, smoky bite with a refreshing chocolate coffee finish. Leaves your mouth tasting like you had a shot of espresso chase a candy bar.

M- Heavy and supple, perfectly carbonated.

D- Highly drinkable beer. Heavy but not filling like most beers of this style. The next time I buy some, I'm getting a case and cracking one open every 6 months or so.

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

I am really beginning to love these stout things....
A- Pours a jet black with an immediate sandy brown head. Hangs out for a while, no real visible carbonation.
S- Yummy. Smells of Worcestershire sauce, some soy sauce, some smoke, bits of piney hop in the back, slight caramel sweetness hanging around.
T- Double yummy. Getting lots of coffee bitterness and smooth smokiness. Aftertaste holds a bit of hops which mixes well with the hops. Very complex.
M- Great weight and body on this. Glides over the tongue quite smoothly.
D- I had no idea the ABV was so wonderfully high. This beer is complex, but quite subtle so as not to overwhelm the senses with any one aspect.

Photo of JonMich13
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage on tap at the Flying Saucer Charlotte.

A = Cute waitress in typical school girl outfit brought this jet black artwork to my table. A sexy girl indeed, but the beer in her hand was sexier. Pure black with a tiny dark brown head. Little speckles of even darker brown percolated while drinking or swirling. Web like lacing down the glass.

S = Dominant sweet chocolate notes with some roasted maltiness and coffee there as well. Some hints of dark fruit maybe as well.

T = Absolutely wonderful taste, that evolved as it warmed. A myriad of complex chocolate, coffee, malt, hop, dark fruit, rum like syrupy sweetness. A warming alcohol slowly evolved down the glass. This is one seriously delicious brew. The 2 year cellar did it real good.

M = Aside from taste, the other truly great aspect of this one. Creamy is the first adjective that came to mind. Just smooth and silky as it went down. Thick, but not as hugely thick as some others. Almost perfect in this regard.

D = Very, very drinkable for all that's going on here. I really wanted another immediately.

I feel privileged to have had this vintage on tap. I will seek out the fresh version and any other vintages I can obtain to compare. They have a tall task to match this brew.

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

2009 Vintage from Bottle

Pours thick black with a thin cocoa head that dissipates rather quickly in a fine ring around the glass. Deep black in appearance with a bit of mahogany around the edges of the glass. Smell is rich in roasted malts with some slight aromas of dried fruits and smoke. The flavor is full of bitter chocolate, roasted malts and a bit of coffee. There is definitely an alcohol presence in the aftertaste but it is very nice. This beer is extremely drinkable, very well done. Happy I bought a few to keep around for a couple years.

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

Bomber, poured into my Stone RIS tulip.

A: Almost pure black, when backlit, just a hint of light brown appears. Two fingers of milk chocolate colored head reveals itself and the remnants hang around for the entire glass.

A: Just like a RIS should smell like. Big roasty nut aroma with dried fruit (rasins, fig, and current). Molasess and dark chocolate are also prominent.

T: Very nice, roasty, chocolate, slightly bitter from the dried fruit and earthy hops.

M: Excellent! Creamy, but enough carbonation to give it a little bite.

D: Very high drinkability for the ABV. Overall, this beer belongs in the discussion of best RIS out there. Just great all around! Skal.

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

A: dark, black, opaque with dark brown head

S: combination of roasted coffee and alcohol

T: complex flavor, both sweet and malty, hints of coffee, hops, and the alcohol warmth and the end

MF: full bodied beer, thick and chewy

Drinkability: have to watch out for this one. the ABV is high and drinks easy. This was my dessert after dinner, I could have easily had seconds and thirds.

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

I tasted this in Apr 2009, just gettin' around to the review-taken from notes. Poured chilled into an ale glass -2009 version.

A - Black thick appearance, great lacing the ale is opaque and has lasting head retention

S - The aroma is rich w/ malt, dark fruit, molasses, candy caramel and vanilla w/ citrus odors from hops

M - The malts have great texture that is rich w/ coffee's roastiness smooth sweetness and viscous without becoming overbearing. The texture is warm from alcohol, but within range

T - The flavor of seriously dark chocolate, roasted grain w/ sweetness of vanilla rum, flavors of currants, plum and dark brown sugar w/ toasted nuts, and cocoa powder. The flavor of hops and alcohol are noted in the tertiary flavors but the taste really lingers w/ malt intensity

D - The west coast has many RIS's that are good, but this is a standout - do not hesitate to try this like I did. I consider it a great example of the style.

Re-review 2008 version courtesy of John Michaelsen at our Stout Tasting part deux. Poured from the cool bomber into a taster and re-sampled again.
A-5 S 4.5 M 4.5 T 4.5 D 5

A - deep black, opaque ominous look with thick beige cap and lots of lace clings. The bead is tiny and retention is decent. The smell of strong roast and fruit with cocoa and a mellow spice element. The main fruit would be currant but other dark fruits come to mind w/ slight woody hop note and hints of toast. The feel is lovely, blended with spicy and roasted textures. The slight amount of alcohol in the feel adds complexity and the spice seems slightly strong with a mild bitter element in the finish.

The taste is great with chocolate bitterness and notes of pepper and currant with a light smoke and hint of toffee in the flavor. The mild cocoa and coffee is buoyed by the hop flavor which gives a slight sweet woodiness and then the toffee-molasses comes back with mild dark brown sugar taste in the finish. This is awesome aged - I think the 2008 is the best by Stone I have ever had, just ridiculously good drinkability and I want to go out and get some to age for three years now, what a treat! Thanks John!

Photo of Florida9
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spring 2009 release

A: Dark. Jet black. Opaque. Two fingers of tan colored head that pools around the edges of the glass and settles down to a nice surface coating. Lots of lacing.

S: This is the beauty of this beer. Rich italian roast coffee. Chocolate. Mocha. Espresso. Mixed in with some malts and this funny hop accent.

T: Bittersweet malts followed by the twang of alcohol on the tongue. Finished with an espresso bitterness that lingers lovingly on the back of the tongue. Coffee and roasty, toasty malts.

M: Full bodied, but, not thick by any means. Actually a bit thinner than most RIS's I've tasted, which improves the drinkability. Appropriate amount of carbonation.

D: Another Stone success. A very nice RIS and one I look forward to having again. Personally, I couldn't drink more than one of these in a sitting - it's much too flavorful - but this a wonderful beer to have every now and then.

Photo of bulletrain76
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle. 2007 vintage, from International liquor right next to my house. I'm guessing that not too many people in Isla Vista drink this stuff, so it was probably sitting there since the spring. Pours nearly solid black, but there's a little brown around the edges. No head, only some light brown lace. Sweet chocolate, vanilla, and almond aroma. Flavors of dark chocolate, prunes, roasted coffee. Doppelbockish. Thick and syrupy, but not overly so. Very rich and alcoholic. Was fantastic for the first glass, but by the end of the bomber it became a little cloying and intense. I think I'll share it next time.

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

Bought at Arroyo Liquor in South San Gabriel, Calif.
This is the Limited Spring 2009 Release bottle.

Slight hint of coffee and fruit. Pour a very dark motor oil black color into pint glass. Can't see light thru the glass! Very small head with little bubbles on top. Very stouty first sip with a strong alcohol backend. A very good mouthfeel of roastiness with the taste tingling with every sip. Overall, a very good Russian Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing. I could drink 2 or 3 of these in a row. Also, a good description on the back of the bottle which I always like to read especially while drinking the beer. Nice.

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

A thick pour with an intense black color and an off-white head.

Smell is roasted with hints of molasses and dark malts, which add coffee and mocca.

Taste is heavy, a sweet malty base covered with roasted, yet mild, black and chocolate malts. Hints of coffee, molasses, figs and mocca offer a great taste. Bitterness nicely balances the roast and let the beer shine in every direction. Some hints of adjunts, like oats or rye, which give an oily character.

Photo of JWD
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorites

A- BLACK almost the darkest ever, medium head and lace.

S- Sweet, dark fruit and chocolate, some bitterness and roasted character.

T- Wonderful thing working here, roasted malts and chocolate and a hoppy finish

M- Good, but not the thickest, oily, and coating IRS i have had.

D- Great, Stone has done a great job on this one as it is my favorite stone offering to date.

Few minor twaeks and this can be as good or better that the best of them, i think it is better than the Abyss and close to Darkness and will have some work to catch the DL. IMO

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

Served on tap at Craft Ale House

Pours a jet black, inky color, the head is thin, and tan.

The nose is really well balanced of coffee, chocolate, and well roasted malts.

The flavor follows the nose, the roasted flavors intermingle brilliantly, lots of complex flavors. As the glass warms, it opens up even more.

Good mouthfeel, not light, not thick - just right

I could drink a bunch of these, not too alcoholic feeling. A great beer.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

'08 vintage bottle shared with Brent (Swimsum). Thanks for the hookup buddy! I've been waiting a looong time to try this one.

Appeaance: Short, brown, creamy, head sits atop a thick pitch black body. Nice lacing. Decent retention - dies to a creamy halo after 5 minutes or so. Looks like a good RIS, but nothing really stands out as special.

Smell: Smokey, meaty, and floral. Hickory and dark fruits maybe? Caramel is quite prevalent, as is roasted malt and (to a lesser degree) coffee. Floral hops and estery alcohol bring the quaff to a close. Although I'm not sure if any distinction exists, I would call this an English-style RIS (as opposed to an American RIS). The main components of the aroma are sweet, fruity, and smokey, whereas American RIS's focus more on black coffee, dark chocolate, pine, and charred wood. This is the best English-style RIS I've ever come across.

Taste: Similar to smell: meat, smoke, caramel, coffee, leafy floral hops, and roasted malt. Chocolate is also in there, but it's more subdued than the other flavors. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about this beer, the majority of them underwhelming. Now that I've tried it myself, I must say that I absolutely love it! Great job Stone!

Mouthfeel: Syrupy, thick, sticky, creamy, hearty, and moderately carbonated. Very smooth. Leaves a sticky residue on my lips.

Drinkability: I want some more of this soooo bad! I was expecting an absolute hop-bomb from Stone, but this turned out to be delicate and harmonious. This is one beautifully addictive RIS.

Photo of jjanega08
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A= pours a viscous pitch black with a small half centimeter head in my snifter that's a nice creamy brown color with some decent retention and average lacing to begin with. Toward the end of the drink the lacing is gone.
S= great classic russian imperial stout smell. Deep roasted malts chocolate and coffee. There is also a significant amount of plum and rasin dark fruit smell.
T= very nice and smooth. This is a 2008 vintage and its actually got some oak notes? Was it in oak at any point? The chocolate is in it with nice roasted malt taste. Some of the best roasted malt I've ever tasted. There's some dark fruit in the taste but not as much as the nose, it sort of comes through on the back of my tongue and fades away quickly to the nice roasted malts.
M= thick and viscous. Very chewy.
D= fabulous. One of the best ris's I've had. I really wish stone would come to MN because this is great I love it.

Photo of bonbini26
3.53/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 Spring Release

I have been cellaring this for the last 2 years, lets see how it held it.

Served in a duvel tulip glass. Pours a dark oily black, with an mean burnt brown colored head, really haven't seen a head like that in a while, no real lacing to write home about, so it just misses the perfect appearance mark. Nose is of rich roasted malt, bitter chocolate and coffe, with hints of molasses. Taste is a little bit of a let down, i was excepting a little more bite in the taste, i don't know how much cellaring this beer hurt it. There is a strong taste of espresso, chocolate, roasted malts, but def. lacking the bitterness, I almost wish I would have drank this sooner, o well. It is pretty smooth on the mouth and is a silky velvet texture could be a little thicker though. The beer is listed at 10% and the alcohol is hidden pretty well, a sipper for sure just for the style. Overall it was kind of a letdown for me after reading so many great reviews, I don't know how much the receipe is changed each year or if cellaring the beer for 2 years hurt it.

Photo of benwah22
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

There's two smells to this beer - first is when the beer is still where you get the dark coffee with the backdrop of burnt molasses and dark chocolate. Then swirl the beer in the glass, think sweet dark fruits - figs, raisons, even blackberry...all with a hint of alcohol.

The beer appears black, but held to the light a deep amber/blackish/brownish/tawney hue can be seen. Dark khaki head that starts fluffy and leaves quickly.

Low carbonation, syrupy, and smooth in the mouth.

The taste is complex - no two ways about it. At first you're hit with the savory - the espresso, the dark chocolate, the tobacco, then the burnt sweet kicks in - think dried dark fruits and burnt sugar/molasses. Lastly, you get the alcohol - but you're not beat over the head with it.

This beer is surprisingly drinkable...well, until the 10.2% catches up to you. You really don't notice it until you're done with the first one.

A fantastic example of the Imperial Russian Stout style

Photo of bound4er
3.48/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A. Whoa, this stuff is almost black. A firm pour produces a rich, dark tan head that leaves a nice amount of lace. A slight cap of foam hangs on until the end.

S. Pretty muted when cold. Some faint, nutty type malt aromas start to emerge along with pit fruit smells (cherries?) as it warms. Alcohol makes an appearance too.

T. Lots of bitterness from roasted malts - some nuttiness, fruitiness and chocolate along with a shot of booze. Nothing to write home about.

M. Thick and low in carbonation - just the way a RIS should be. This beer expands across your palate very nicely.

D. A sipper - I split a bomber with my wife, 11 ounces is plenty for me. This is a good beer but a little too harsh/bitter for me - I was expecting more given the high scores and hype. Not up to the caliber of Founder's RIS, Ten FIDY and Old Rasputin.

Photo of vrazionale
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 Pt. 6 Fl. Oz. bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a snifter. The bottle reads "Limited Spring 2009 Release."

A - This is one viscous, intense-looking brew. Pours a deep blackish brown with a 1/4 inch brown head. The head and the beer slowly slide down the side of the glass after swirling. Indeed it does pour "like Siberian crude," as the bottle reads. Absolutely beautiful.

S - Chocolate, coffee, anise, smoke, wood, toasted bread, malt. Rich, inviting, and too complex for words.

T - Slightly smoky and earthy, but the sweetness of chocolate is definitely there. I get a long finish of toasted malt. The flavors develop as it warms, and you can even taste this if you roll it around your mouth for a few seconds.

M - It feels thick and heavy on the palate, but in a very good way. It just rolls around your mouth. A bit of a sticky feel after swallowing, though I don't think you could make a brew this rich without a bit of stickiness.

D - This is one of those beers with which you should take your time. It takes some endurance to drink a brew this rich and complex - next time I would share it with a friend. I'm sure it ages exceptionally well. A must-try for stout lovers and adventurous beer drinkers alike!

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