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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

7,290 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,290
Reviews: 2,601
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 587
Gots: 1,635 | 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
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Ratings: 7,290 | Reviews: 2,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Seanibus
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours viscous, thick, and black with an off color, even brownish, head. Initial aroma from the bottle was a strong blast of damp cardboard. But that gives way to roasty and rich, with wood, charcoal and a little plum. Flavor is bitter, woody and a little smoke. Finish is surprisingly dry, with an ashy bitterness. Mouthfeel is thick and slightly clingy, but it finishes cleaner than I expected. Sugar on the lips but mouth puckering on the finish as it warms.

Photo of jacobseyb
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A=Very dark black, opaque no light passing through. Golden brown head that hangs around nicely.

S=Coffee, malts, chocolate

T=Coffee, chocolate is what hits first, sweetness comes later.

M=Nice, good carbonation, lingers just long enough.

D=I found it to be quite drinkable. Not something I struggled to get through the bomber.

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this at the Hulmeville Inn.In PA. Poured black with a nice coca cola colored heading with some very tiny bubbles of carbonation slowly drift upward. Lacing stays pretty much throughout the tasting.

Smell is of roasted coffee,with a touch of chocolate and caramal. A heavy boozy smell is present too.

Taste is very thick like drinking syrup,and very smooth to go with that thickness.Little bit of a fruity aftertaste when it settles in the stomach. For such a heavy hitter it really dosen't have that burn like most big brews have.

Mouth is very thick,full bodied and good carbonation.

For such a big ABV it is a very drinkable beer.

Photo of moosington
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 Bomber poured into Duvel tulip.

This is a fantastically opaque black with a nice amberish tan head that falls to a light ring.

Aroma hits the nostrils with force. Coffee, toffee and molasses.

Flavor has a nice smokiness with a subtle but still there coffee overtone and just a touch of a combo of molasses and vanilla and a mild bitterness that stays in the finish.

Mouthfeel is good, possibly a bit too much carbonation, but otherwise a fine viscosity and a nice tongue coating and a smidgeon of alcohol heat.

This is an RIS that I could possibly drink for an entire night, but that could change with some aging.

Photo of stbfan
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

been waiting to try this one for a while.

enjoyed in a snifter.

opaque black.no light seeps through this beer.decent brown/tan head.

smells glorious. chocolate, roasted coffee, nice hops taste. sweet, like a yummy dessert.

awesome, thick, creamy mouthfeel with a little alcohol on the back of the palate.bitter finish.

very smooth beer! very nice. a beer fit for a czar!

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

A: poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Inky black with a small tan head. Looks very viscous and absolutely opaque.

S: burnt grain, ethanol, black coffee, roasted almond, dark soy

T: crisp malty flavor with some complexity but not much as the nose. has a back current of alky bite but doesn't obstruct you.

M: nice and smooth, but not as full/rich as some big stouts

D: pretty damn good for a nearly 11% abv. One of the more enjoyable RIS I've tried.

March 2010 edit - recently enjoyed another bottle with more age on it ('08 vintage). less head; virtually none, really. a more noticeable smell of dark soy that translated into a more savory flavor (though the overall impression is still on the sweet/malty side). feel about the same, i.e. smooth but not exceptionally creamy. excellent drinkability remains.

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

Spring 2009 Release

Pours a dark black, appears viscous, with a moderate brown head. Heavy lacing is left on the glass surface. Reviewers describe an awesome aroma but all I get is a shot of alcohol. Maybe a little roasted malt as well. Things pick up in the flavor department but not much. The main flavor component is a roasted/burnt bitterness. Missing subtle flavors that would warrant a higher grade. A substantial body with proper carbonation. Not as thick as other RIS but still good. A good RIS but nothing that sets it above others in the style.

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

Pitch black colored beer with a rich creamy tan head,Aroma is chocolate malts.Taste is chocolate,molasses,nuts and alcohol.A very very good beer.Great taste and smooth as hell.This is a no brainer that I would recommend.Will I buy this again??I'm on my way to the store now!!

Photo of HABike
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Drank poured from a 22oz bottle. Built a thick head, which quickly thinned to a nice lacing. Very good smell, largely a coffee aroma, with hints of caramel and alcohol. Something else I can't quite put my finger on in the mix too. Nice.

The taste opens malty and rich, with hints of coffee and chocolate. The other flavors fade, finishes with the coffee dominating the taste. Somewhat more bitter than some other stouts, but not overbearingly so.

The mouthfeel is the weakest aspect of this beer. It just doesn't feel as full and rich as I was hoping it would. A bit of a disappointment here. It's not bad, but it's less impressive than a lot of other top flight stouts.

I wouldn't call this a session beer by any stretch, but all 22oz were plenty enjoyable. Best sipped slowly, but smooth enough. Solid.

Photo of Sean9689
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 on the bottle (thanks BanditBrewingCo). Pours a think black with a chocolate head into my snifter. Head quickly thins out leaving bubbles and a slim layer of tan carbonation. I was on the couch grabbing my computer to do this review and could smell this RIS all the way on the coffee table...wow! I get chocolate milk, alcohol, roasted nuts, on the nose. I taste dark chocolate mixed with heavy cream, almonds, and a bitter alcohol flavor on the finish. Mouthfeel is great, thick & rich, chewy, and perfect carbonation. This is a great RIS that I will no-doubt be grabbing in the very near future.

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

07 version on tap at the Saucer. Poured into a snifter this beer was solid black withe a 2 finger mocha head. It smells of currants, coffee and strong roasted malts. The taste is more of the same. It is incredibly drinkable and has a nice creamy chocolate finish. This is a fantastic beer and easily one of my favorites.

Photo of dqderrick
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 22oz Bottle
---
Purchased at Encinitas, CA Bevmo for $5.69. Funny, I live in Carlsbad and have purchased 3 different kegs from Stone direct... not to mention having tasted every beer Stone has made over the last 2 years at least... and this is my first Stone review after over 30. Significance = None.

NOTE: My 2008 IRS review that was completed on the same day (4/15/2009) can be found toward the bottom.

A - 5.0
Pure black. Poured with just over 1/4" chocolate milk colored head. As the head dissipated, I swirl the glass and can see bubbles effervescing just under the surface along the edge of the glass. The lacing slips down the sides. Towards the bottom of the glass as it thins, it looks a little like RC cola in color. It seems more carbonated than I remember the 2008 IRS. It looks amazing... I long for it.

S - 3.5
Roasted grains. I can smell the alcohol. Is it my glass? A little chocolate. Even a little nutty smell. Maybe even a little hairspray? Odd. I pick up sweetness... maybe a little honey? Still picking up a little hairspray. I think the smell will improve with age as I remember the 08 smelling at least 4.5 worthy. HAIR SPRAY!

T - 5.0
Malty chocolate, a hint of caramel. Awesome. I could drink this until the cow come home. There is a little espresso in the flavor. Some roasted grains. A hint of molasses. I'm revisiting the malty chocolate experience. Damn. This 22oz is going fast.

MF - 4.0
Seems more carbonated that I remember. More than I like. But, still quite good. My tongue feels a little numb... in a good way.

D - 5.0
Crazy drinkability. I had a 5 gallon keg of the 2008 IRS and found myself going back for 3rds on quite a few nights. I'd love to get another keg, but I just don't trust my self control. I must admit, this isn't as smooth as the 2008 IRS is now. But, we've all come to expect a fresh Stone IRS to be a little harsh with alcohol. The fresh hops may add some to that as well.

===
===
===

2008 12oz Bottle
---
12oz bottle purchased at Stone Brewery for $3. I just had the 2009 and had to compare. WOW, what a difference.

A - 5.0
I have nothing to complain about. Carbonation is a tad lower. The 1/4" head appeared but dissipated quickly to the edges. Visually, seems right on par with a fresh 2009 with only a small bit less carbonation... but hardly noticable.

S - 4.5
Home run. So much more going on here than the fresh 2009. Floral malt smell with little to no alcohol/hairspray smell. Smells a bit like wet wood. A little caramel chocolate. Even a smidge of bourbon.

T - 5.0+
Smooth, earthy, even a little wood aged. Honey sweet comes with the aftertaste. Upfront, silky bourbon chocolate. Crazy good. Just a hint of coffee/espresso.

MF - 4.5
Deliciously silky. Swirls around my tongue lightly but pronounced. Leaves a woody-aged feel.

D - 5.0+
For this high of ABV (10.8%).... scary drinkable. What a year does! This one year aged beer is even more drinkable than the 2009. I'm almost sorry I gave the 2009 a 5.0 and now I can't go any higher.

NOTE: I have adjusted my public score to reflect the 2008 bottle as it is still available in many places (I think).

Photo of Thorpe429
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2008 Release

G: Poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours a very dark, rich brown that is opaque in the glass. A finger or more of light cocoa-colored head with a good amount of carbonation visible in it. Pretty good lacing.

S: Strong on the alcohol. First scents are chocolate, cherry skins, caramel. Rich, roasted malts.

T: Waited until this one warmed up a little bit to fill out the taste profile--it definitely improves as it gets more toward room temperature. Plenty of complexity. Caramel with hints of chocolate, all behind a solid roasted, dark malt backbone. Not as much of the dried fruit as I picked up in the nose. This almost hits me as a cross between a RIS and an American Imperial Stout. Either way, very solid.

M: Medium-bodied with an above-average amount of carbonation. Definite alcohol warmth. Slightly chewy.

D: Highly drinkable for an RIS. This has a lighter mouthfeel than many others, and I can definitely see how this is a spring--as opposed to winter--release.

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

The first review below is for the new bottle, but I kept the score for the old bottle since it was higher.

Spring '09 Review
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4
3.95 B+

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a snifter.

Appears completely black with a one and a quarter inch tan head produced after a fairly hard pour.

Aroma is chocolaty primarily, a slight dark fruit character of cherries perhaps, a light hop presence, and a tinge of alcohol.

Taste is chocolaty up front with the fruit character entering in the middle. Finish becomes a lot more coffee-like and bitter especially since there is a lot of citrus and piney hops present. A bit of an alcoholic finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy as hell, pretty thick body, I suppose it could be called chewy.

Overall I really don't like this one that much when fresh. Obviously from my review below with only a few more months on it, I liked it much more. I will probably pick up another bottle this week to put in the cellar but this brew just doesn't impress me that much right now. There's too much hop flavor and everything seems to be struggling to blend but just can't get it done.

---

Spring '08 Review (08/08/08)
4.5/4/4.5/4.5/4.5

For my 100th review I thought I'd do something special that I've been wanting to try. Well lucky me, I found a bomber of this stuff today at a liquor store that I had never been to.

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a tulip glass.

Appears a pitch black color that is completely opague. No light is getting through this one. Big two and a half finger dark tan head that sinks to a coating and sticks around to leave some sticky lacing down the side of the glass.

Aroma is bursting with sweet and roasted malt. Caramel, chocolate, coffee, and raisins come to mind.

The taste...wow, the taste. Sweet caramel and molasses up front followed by a big dose of dark chocolate and a bitter coffee-like finish with a bit of alcohol. After the swallow the hops come out on the tongue, take a bow, and do a little dance to the tune of the First Promenade of Pictures at An Exhibition. Royalty right here.

Mouthfeel is nice and thick without being syrupy. Excellent.

What a great beer. That's all I need to say.

Photo of DarbyOGill
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Poured like molasses, jet black, with a think brown head. Pretty nice lacing. REALLY DARK

S: Smells boozy, but at 11% ABV that isn't surprising. Strong malt flavors also come through.

T: Starts with alcolhol taste hitting the palette followed by a little burn. The alcohol is then followed by chocolate hints and I get a slight coffee flavor. I always get a flavor resembling soy sauce in all RIS I drink, this beer is no exception (and for some reason it's a good thing). I got a strong malty flavor throughout each sip, which was really enjoyable. It ends similarly to how it starts, I get a nice alcohol finish.

D: Goes down really smooth. Not as heavy as I expected, but I could probably only drink 1 or 2 before moving to lighter beers. This beer is pretty hard hitting. This is my first beer of the night and I'm already feeling it pretty good. Anything over 1 or 2 would be a waste anyways, because I'd already be tipsy at that point.

Photo of MacDomer
3.6/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from 2008 poured into my Duvel tulip.

Looks nice - this is black as black can be, light tan head which doesn't last, not much of a cap either after 5 min. Smells good, and the thing that jumps out to me is some kind of sweetness. It's pretty rich, with some chocolate, dates, raisins, some licorice, prunes, and I'm sure some other things I'm missing. A bit of alcohol. Taste is also good, medium-full, pretty rich, and rather sweet. Flavors like the nose. Ton of malt. Feels fine, but I'd prefer less carbonation. I'm going to score this lower on the drinkability scale, not because it isn't sessionable (which it's not, but what are you expecting from a RIS after all?), but because after I eventually consume the other couple of bottles of this that I have, I probably will not seek out again. Fun to try, but just not to my taste. A bit too sweet for how I like my RIS.

Photo of BARFLYB
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle in a snifter. Split with oglmcdgl, 09 version.

A- IRS is black, dark and bold looking. A tan mocha head with some retention sat on top for a while before defleating. Nice sheets of lacing stuck to the glass.

S- dark sweet chocolate with some hops hiding. Roasted malts and sweet coffee. A lot of dark fruits as well with some alcohol coming from this fresh bottle. A bit of cream and vanilla in the distance.

T- A sweet blast of chocolate with coffee not to far behind. Roasted malts follow and play well with the vanilla/cream underlay. I'm getting just a hint of a tootsie roll flavor. Some hops balance it all out making for a delicious treat. A bit of fresh alcohol.

M- Full bodied with some apparent alcohol sting but some malt fullness to heal any wounds. Coats the mouth with the main ingredients focusing on chocolate. Some bitterness and a bit of carbonation. Pretty good all around.

D- Best to be split with the high ABV but I could see myself with one of these in the middle of winter. Not the most drinkable RIS i've had but perhaps some age can fix the dents. Gets better with some chocolate nearby.

Photo of lamarr04
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into tulip glass

A: Pours nearly pitch black with thin dark tan head that quickly dissolves to nothing

S: Dark chocolate and prune are the first two notes to hit my noes. There is some underlying coffee and smokiness that follows shortly after. Trying my best to find the alcohol but I can't. maybe it needs to warm up a bit or maybe its just masked by the other big aromas.

T: Bitter chocolate hits the tongue. followed by a subtle fruitiness and acidic coffee. the heat from the alcohol comes through pleasantly at the end but is dangerously well masked, especially for a bottle with no age on it.

M: Viscous lingering mouthfeel. subdued carbonation. what one would expect in a russian imperial stout.

D: A sipper by definition but an enjoyable one. the complex flavor and aroma in combination with the well masked alcohol gives this one high marks for drinkability.

Photo of mechamifune
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

For a beer of such high ABV, this is exceptionally drinkable. A slight alcohol tinge in the aftertaste, but a very pleasant smoothness is immediately apparent. Of the dozen or so "Imperial Stouts" i've had, this is probably the most pleasant. Among stouts in general i would consider it second only to founders breakfast stout. Highly recommended.

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

22oz bomber poured into a tulip. Beer is completely opaque in glass with nice dark roast coffee-esque head. Scent is superb; if I didn't know better I'd think I was smelling a glass of chocolate milk or one of those sugary Starbucks drinks. A hint of hazelnut or almond is also present at the end.

Taste is reminiscent of a strong iced espresso. There's a nice, in-your-face dark chocolate bitterness upfront, and as it goes down the throat, a nice aroma of roasted coffee beans and dark burnt caramel invades your palate with a nice alcohol burn to warm up your stomach. I could imagine someone drinking this and mistaking it for a dark roast Irish coffee.

Mouthfeel is nice and thick as a RIS should be. Feels like a nice thick cappuccino milkshake that coats your entire mouth before it goes down. You can actually feel it coating your esophagus and your stomach on the way down. Wonderful.

Drinkability is unrivaled, compared to RIS's I've tried. Alcohol is completely balanced with the flavor, to the point that it's really not noticeable until it's down the hatch. I could see myself drinking these regularly as a nightcap, like a cup of warm milk before bed. Even better, I drool at the thought of having a pint of this on nitro tap.

Overall, this is an amazing RIS. I'm a fan of stouts and porters, but generally not a fan of RIS's because the alcohol takes over the flavors in a large number of them. But this is ridiculously balanced, so much so that I probably wouldn't have known this was a RIS. For now, it's the best RIS I've had, and recommend it to everyone without hesitation.

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

Spring 2009 bomber. Pours dark black color with a chocolate milk colored head. Just beautiful. I love imperial stouts. Anyways, Stone's IRS smells very sweet, of chocolate, coffee, and malts malts malts. The taste is perfect. This might be the best tasting beer I've had. Even more so than KBS. Tastes so damn smooth, and of coffee, chocolate, toffee, candy, it's very sweet in a good RIS way! So damn delicious, a bomber is not hard to kill. Mouthfeel is near pefect as well, nothing bad to say about this beer. It's very smooth. The alcohol is hidden extremely well. Drinkability.. lets just say I'm going to pick up many bottles of this whenever I go out next. Fucking loved it.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Limited Spring 2008 release, enjoyed an hour after Easter dinner; with Stone Brewing Company's reputation for making excellent beer, I quite looked forward to this.

Opaque, pitch black with a one and a half finger tan head that receded leaving a cloudy, bubbly film over most of the surface. Moderate lacing, head easily regenerates with a swirl. Smells of leather, subdued coffee aroma, brownies and pumpernickel loaf. The taste is really big but not that complex - anise and black licorice predominate but not a lot else going on despite airing and warming. There is a dry brazil nut astringency that compromises a better mouthfeel, a little too astringent for my tastes. Because of that, the texture is just a little rough even considering the style. As well, warming brought out a burnt wood / charcoal aroma. On the plus side, the high ABV is reasonably well handled and there is a hearty, substantial fullness to this stout that is consistent with the style, heavy duty might be a good term for it, this is obviously not a beer for the meek and mild.

Overall, I wish I had cellared this another year during which time the astringency might have settled somewhat and allowed for greater complexity in taste and a more rewarding mouthfeel. The advice on the label to cellar a case and try it at six month intervals is pretty sage and I'd love to try doing that sometime.

Photo of stoutfiend27
3.15/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 22 oz bottle poured into my duvel tulip

a-oil black and thick..no light penetration...short lived espresso colored head

s-sweet, slight notes of coffee but the sweet smell really puts off all other smells and over powers this brew

t-toffee and caramel and very sweet..i cannot pin point what the sweet taste or smell is but it puts me off..

m-thick and oily...it has good mouthfeel for a ris

d-would not seek this out to have another...def a try once and move on to another brew

overall i was let down...i like all of stones year round offerings quite well with the exception of the smoked porter....maybe i had an off bottle but being as i took it out of the delivery box before it hit the shelves i doubt it...

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

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours the expected black brown color, with pretty good head retention and plenty of sticky lacing. On the nose there is a huge blast of coffee, coupled with some roasty malt and vanilla. Flavors on the palate replicate the nose, except there is an underlying creaminess that is really nice. Interestingly, the beer starts off with some moderate sweetness, but the finish is pretty dry. There is also a hint of cherry, licorise and chocolate in this impressive stout. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but there is a long, creamy, smooth finish that is impressive. Drinkability is pretty good, though you can tell the alcohol is up there a bit. This is clearly the sort of beer that you won't be pounding down a whole lot of.

A couple of thoughts. This is a very good beer, but I have to say, that at least in my opinion, it's not in the same league with Dark Lord, Abyss and KBS. In fact I would probably take the Goose Island Bourbon County over this beer. All that aside, this is still a very fine beer, and an absolute treat to find on tap. Cheers!

Photo of jsp2
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Oily dark rich pour into a pint glass with a thick coffee cream colored dense head.

Aroma is a mixture of roasted barley, coffee, raisins, vanilla, and liquorice and is very strong.

Sweet and nutty approach followed by vanilla, coffee, enormous maltiness and finally a slightly dry alcohol finish. Wow. Incredibly smooth and oily feel and carbonation is pretty low. Bitterness is well used and balances enormous malt throughout the brew.

This is probably my favorite RIS and one of the best all around beers I have enjoyed. You can really spend a long time sipping a bottle of this stuff. Very complex and interesting flavor with great balance. I will be buying a case of this to cellar.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 7,290 ratings.