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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,448 Ratings

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Ratings: 7,448
Reviews: 2,627
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 653
Gots: 1,752 | FT: 100
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: 7,448 | Reviews: 2,627
Photo of ThaBobfather
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black, almost like motor oil with a nice sampling milk chocolate color head.
Smells richly of roasted malt, some coffee, and some coco.
Taste has smooth coffee and roasted flavors at the beginning then transitions into a bitter chocolate taste.
Finish is crisp with a defining bitter chocolate after-taste.
Drinks incredibly well while playing in the realm of 10.8%, there is a little lingering bitter that makes the last couple of drinks a little tough, but still delicious.

Photo of fdrich29
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 FL. OZ bottle purchased at Marty's in Newton (took advantage of their Make Your Own Six Pack discount). "Limited Spring 2008 Release" and 10.8% ALC.

Black bod, tan head. Both beautiful. Smells of rich malts, roasted coffee, chocolate and of something burnt. Tastes is mostly of the coffee and malt.

Smooth mouthfeel but an alcohol aftertaste I probably would get if I waited another year or so.

I'm a big fan of the RIS, I've had some better, many not as good as this offering. Sometimes I neglect staples from the better known breweries, glad I grabbed this one (and glad for Marty's 6-pack discount!)

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

From a 22 oz bomber dated Spring 2009, into my cervoise. Dark, "pitch brown" color with no penetrating light or really anything around the edges. Towering brown-tan head collapses quickly to a thin sheet and ring of foam with small amounts of clingy lace. Nose of burnt sugar, oaky wood, hints of vanilla, and clearly present boozy alcohol. Creamy, milk-chocolate-sweet toasted malt flavor up front, with fruity undertones and refined-sugar sweetness. Moderate alcohol burn at the back with a dry, coffee-bitter finish. Mouth is smooth and creamy to the extrme. There's a tiny amount of carbonation keeping things sharp but other than that it's smooth and silky, just a bit thinner than skim milk and a bit smoother. Drinkability--ah, there's the rub, I suppose. This one's a consummate sipper, and I suspect reaching the bottom of this well-integrated 10.8% ABV beast is going to be a challenge.

Overall: An exemplary RIS, extremely complex and satisfying. Highly recommended.

Photo of Patrick999
3.23/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice, the IRS finally showed up down here! I hear this is best aged, but hey, you gotta try it fresh first if possible. 2009 vintage.

A - Poured into a wine glass. Very dark, as you'd expect, and a thin espresso-like crema for a head.

S - Oddly rnough, I find the aromatics a bit muted. It smells like a weaker version of any number of imperial stouts. Mostly roasted coffee - I think I could be fooled into thinking this was a coffee stout if I didn't know better.

T, F - Ahh, I can already tell this needs more time in the bottle. It's harsh...really roasty and harsh. Extremely bitter coffee and bitter alcohol, with some of the currant and anise at the back end. Sticky and viscous, but without being terribly sweet at all. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I could stand for this to come off a bit sweeter. Whether from the roasted malts, hops, alcohol, or a combination of all 3, this is too bitter in its current state. Aside from the hint of currant at the immediate finish, it's just straight bitterness...and unpleasant bitterness if you ask me. With these huge American Impy Stouts, warming up usually takes a lot of the edge off for me, but it doesn't seem to be happening with this.

D - I don't know if I can finish the bomber. I have to get down to the last pour, though, so I can swirl in the dregs from bottle conditioning and see if/how that affects this.

Now, I do see the potential here. This is highly regarded on BA for good reason. I am going to buy another bottle - but it's not going to be opened for a good long while. Right now, though, drinkability is really limited.

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

2008 bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Black in color with no hope for light. Poured with a tiny head. Very little trace of lacing.

Smell: Notes of chocolate, coffee, malts, and dark fruits. They all seem to be roasted to perfection.

Taste: A chocolate malt occurs first followed closely with roasted coffee. The dark fruits and slightest bit of anise finish it off with a nice alcohol dash.

Mouthfeel: An excellent full bodied feel. It graces every area of the mouth.

Drinkability: Superb drinkability! Address with extreme caution!

Photo of BZero007
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from Rick's Wine and Gourmet in Alexandria, VA.

Stone RIS '09

Poured in to my Portsmouth tulip, pours a pitch black color with a very minimal light brown head. Had to force the pour to get even an half an inch of head to form. Head forms minimal and stays around for abit. Aroma is of a very chocolate and mallasas mix. The Malasses taste is very prominant for me and is ocompanied by the chocolate and coffee flavors. The brew is thick but not overly thick and filling. Carbonation is minimum and average for a good RIS and helps with the drinkability. The brew it's self is very tasty but watch out for the alcohol level when you have finished the 22oz it will hit you. I am very interested in sampaling the older versions of this particular brew. Will continue to cellar each year of this brew.

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

vintage 2008

A - poured thick dark black with thin light cocoa head. nice retention and little lacing

S - very rich with candied cherry, vanilla, sweet malts, and light coffee

T - very rich! coffee up front and through the finish. light chocolate and sweet roasted malts backing this up. slight molasses and vanilla.

M - fairly thick and oil like. light carbonation gives it some life.

D - good stuff! great blends and balance make this super smooth and easy. i had this in the fall of 08 and it was a little more harsh. for 10.8 ABV, the alcohol is hidden well. this is very smooth overall.

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

Pours thick, darkest cordovan, opaque. A thin tan head dissipates quickly to a thin ring to the edge of the pint glass.

Smell is rich and thick, dark caramel, coffee, chocolate, bitter herbs, earth. A thin but penetrating warmth of alcohol ushers this wondrous bouquet through my nose and to the pleasure centers of my brain.

Taste is a verification, and amplification, of the smell. A blast of coffee and dark chocolate blast across my tongue, followed by sweet yeast, roasted malt, deep dank herbs, and earth, finally ending in a finish I can only describe as the last stage of a four stage firework, when you think it ends, another round of beauty follows. There is a sweetness here, and a taste of alcohol, but they are both balanced with the overall profile as to be ghosts, there, but not there. I was ready to not like this, I am a big fan of Stone, and wanted to be hyper critical to assure objectivity in this review, but this is fucking delicious, complex, deep and dank, everything you could want in an American Imp stout.

Mouthfeel is great, thick, resinous, full bodied but somehow light as it slowly clears out for the next sip.

Drinkability is very good, this is a good sipper. It's potency might limit, but the flavor invites a long sipping session.

Photo of WakeandBake
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A thick oily black pour with a medium sized brown head. Aroma of roasted barley,charred malt,molasis,coffee and a hint of alcohol. Flavor is huge,malty sweet,some coffee,anise,smoke,dark roasted barley,and rasins, a smooth creamy mouthfeel,soft carbonation,lots of sticky lacing, with a slightly bitter coffee/alcohol burn finish. Another very good brew from Stone.

Photo of barnzy78
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Pours black with no transparency. Milk chocolaty brown head is thick but quick to dissipate. Aromas are sweet, toasty roasted malts, and chocolate - not much else. Mouth-feel is creamy and thick - coats the palate well. Tastes are bitter chocolate with hints of espresso and slight molasses. Lingering dark chocolate finish with white pepper and a hint of anise. As the ale approaches room temperature, fruity esters add to the complexity giving off notes of black cherry and black currant. Also is more boozy as it warms, although overall the alcohol is well concealed for an RIS (or IRS in this case). Really enjoyed this one. One of the better Imperial Stouts I've had, and yet another great Stone brew!

Photo of Casey10
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally showed up in Maine.. I have been waiting to try this for awile.

A - Dark brown no light going through this.

S - Smell of burnt coffee chocolate

T mmm good dark burnt chocolate very good stout

M foamy nice dry burnt stout feel again burnt coffe notes

D - good now I think it will be even better cellared. I think one poster wondered why this came out as a spring/summer drink. I think the people at stone know that with age this will be a great winter drink so are giving us the ability to do that. My two cents anyway. Will follow up after having a chance to cellar.

Photo of GodOfBeer
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, "2009 limited spring release."

Pours a nice thick black with a nice two inch thick tan head, some lacing sticks to the glass.

Smells of rich molasses, coffee, chocolate, a slight burnt grain smell, like a typical RIS.

Tastes wonderful, very malty, chocolatey, lots of molasses, coffee, a nice hop bitter finish as well. The alcohol is kind of noticeable, but not too bad.

Nice thick syrupy mouthfeel, qutie drinkable, I don't know about a spring beer though, but this would be good for a cold winter night in the middle of butt fuck nowhere!

Photo of Buschyfor3
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 22oz bottle into my Duvel tulip (as I see on Stone's website, it looks as if they serve their IRS in a similarly shaped, flared tulip glass).

A: Pours a deep, oily black and quite a sluggish pour at that. There is a slight cascade effect which builds up under a billowing, thick, creamy, dark khaki head that sticks around throughout the glass. Lacing coats the glass. My brother in law commented that this beer looks "sinister." Killer looking stout.

S: I get a huge dark fruit (maybe the black currants) blending with a heavy, boozy note. Alot of big roastiness in the form of hot, black coffee. Bottle also indicates anise, but I'm not picking much of that through the booziness in the nose.

T: Huge and complex! Dark bittersweet chocolate and big, bold, black coffee up front. Then the hints of molasses, sweet dark fruit and the faintest kiss of licorice make an appearance. The booze in the nose makes its presence well known here, following the initial wave of sweetness with a warming blast of peppery flavor that rides well into the finish where it is only surpassed by a fleeting moment of hop bitterness. Finish pulls out a mellower, roasted coffee profile that lingers long after each sip.

M: Thick, oily, chewy. Very low carbonation. This RIS coats the glass and the throat.

D: Huge ABV (10.5%) and it kicks you in the ass from the start of the bottle… it's definitely hot! (To me, this was noticeably more boozy than Bell's Expedition Stout that I tried a few weeks back). You must SIP this beer. It took me over an hour to finish the bottle, and the alcohol only seems to grow as it warms up. Overwhelming booziness impairs the drinkability to some degree, and for that reason alone I docked a few points from the final score. Otherwise, quite an enjoyable sipper, and one that took me most of the evening to finish.

Some age on the bottle would surely smooth out the alcohol presence and allow greater exploration of the complexities in this devilishly delicious stout. I would say that Stone's offering has a more complex, nuanced palate as compared to Bell's Expedition Stout (as a point of reference), but that Expedition just nudges ahead in terms of better drinkability for such a high ABV stout - but not by a wide margin! Nonetheless, a fresh bottle of Stone's IRS is very much worthy of a purchase - it is complex and has all the hallmarks of a supreme stout, not to mention a highly agreeable price point of $5.49/bomber. Recommended.

Photo of pmcadamis
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My wife picked this up for me in Fort Collins while visiting her sister. She knows the stuff I can't get in central IL and gets some for me while she's out that way (she always calls me from the liquor store and says "have you had this?" and "can you get this in Springfield?" She's great!

A - Thick and black like motor oil, with a trace of the purplish-rainbow sheen that you can see in old nasty oil that leaks onto the ground underneath old beaters. Held to the light, not a trace makes its way through. The head is initially four fingers of deep tan to light brown cream, and retention stays at about two fingers for the duration. Lots of really thick and creamy lace sticks to the glass, forming big sheets of super-dense foam.

S - Double chocolate chip cookies and German chocolate cake. Fudge brownies, melted dark chocolate chips, French vanilla coffee creamer (liquid), and lightly toasted marshmallows. This is smells ridiculously sweet and chocolaty; smells really nice and sweet but smells like it's overly chocolaty and sugary.

T - Much more well-rounded than it smells. The chocolate brownie, fudge, double chocolate chip notes are still there, but a bitter dark baker's chocolate and almost sour lactic note come through. This is much like a cafe mocha in that it's slightly bitter from espresso and dark chocolate, but sweetened by steamed milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. There is also a high level of hops that gives away it's west coast origin, and a lightly smoked flavor adds complexity.

M - Thick, viscous, but oddly simultaneously chalky. Reminds me of a handful of ash soaked in water and placed in the mouth. The sweet super-chocolate notes up front and the bitter hops and roasted flavors on the back end confuse the palate.

D - I'm surprised by this one. I thought it would be an outstanding brew, but while not bad it's no where near as nice as expected based on everyone else's ratings on this site. Chalk it up to personal preference, but I think that this is a confusingly complicated beer that I think might improve DRASTICALLY with age (mine is a Spring 2009 batch, so it's super-young).

Photo of mikeal1917
2.74/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I spotted this number at my local Beer store.

Appearance: Amazing dark chocolately brown color with small head

Smell: Quick pungent, with a chocolate definitely pronounced initially

Taste: Unless your a fan of strong brews, think beer is quite bitter, and the chocolate doesn't match it very well in my opinion, and that was gently chilling it as the guy at the store advised.

Mouthfeel: thick brew rolls down your palette, feel a lot like milk, nice and smooth

Drinkability: Both the price and thickness will keep this beer as a once in awhile beer in small amounts

given the average of the beer, I'll probably end up trying it again just to be sure, but as of now not that impressed

Photo of adamette
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Live Review. Poured from a bomber purchased at Heinen's in Willoughby Hills, Ohio for $6.99. oured into my silver rimmed Chimay glass (I realized that I really do not have a proper stout glass). No observed "best by" date but does it really matter?

A Incredibly sinister looking absolutely black body under an actual dark brown head that was not significant (about 1 cm) and stayed around for about 2 minutes. The look, especially for the style, cannot be improved. 5.0

S Dark Chocolate sweetness, maybe some coffee with cream smell as well. I do not smell much alchohol at all which I did expect. The smell is interesting, inviting and even smooth. 4.5

T I waited with this beer, allowing it to warm to about 50 degrees, before attempting to sip. I took my time and created the above comments about appearance and smell. Anyway, here goes: Wow, a pungeant stout with that dark dark malt and some of the dark chocolate sweetness but a bit too much alcohol kick for my tastes. As I repeatedly sip and think about this beer I wonder if two factors would help my assessment and rating of this beer:
1. if I allowed it to warm even more
2. if I aged it more (my best guess is that this was bottled in 2008).
Addendum (still sipping and thinking about this beer): As it warmed (over a period of 30 minutes) I continued to get a pungeant alcohol taste that I really do not care for. I know that imperials have a high ABV profile but others are better at hiding their huge alcohol content. 4.0

M Huge with big ABV, big deep dark tastes. This is a sipper beer for sure. 4.0

D Being an apertif its drinkability cannot be that high but within the style it has a better than average rating due to its huge complexity and potential for improvement in aging.3.5

Notes: the 4th of 5 Stone beers that I am tasting and rating this week. This is a great RIS but I have enjoyed others more (like Big Black Voodoo Daddy).

Photo of hardy008
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Limited Spring 2009 Release bomber.

Appearance - Pours a black color which shows streaks of ruby when held to the light. Has a tan foamy 2 finger head. Leaves a nice sticky lace on the glass.

Smell - Coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, and a nice malt presence.

Taste - Sweet malt and molasses complimented nicely by bitter coffee and dark chocolate flavors.

Mouthfeel - Heavy bodied, rich and creamy. Nice carbonation.

Drinkability - Highly drinkable, but there is a lot to consume in a bomber with 10.5% alcohol.

Photo of Rhynes2
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this into a glass from a 22oz. bomber. This beer kicked my ass. Rich creamy head stayed for the duration of the brew and laced all the way down. Taste was like coffee/dark chocolate and was the thickest beer I have ever had. Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy. This pitch black beer is one of the best imperial stouts I have had. Definitely buying this one again. Absolutely loved it.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.79/5  rDev -12.7%
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
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
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
4.06/5  rDev -6.5%
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
4.21/5  rDev -3%
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
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
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
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,448 ratings.