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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.

7,287 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,287
Reviews: 2,601
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 586
Gots: 1,633 | FT: 95
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: 7,287 | Reviews: 2,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jjboesen
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In the 19th Century, trade routes had opened between England and the Baltic States; and, since many porters of the day would not endure the journey, the brewers made their beers especially strong - much like they did with IPAs. The result is this exquisite style of beer (It is called "Russian" due to the fact that it was enjoyed by those folks.

Stone's version is a big and toasty concoction that starts out with a giant head of billowy cream-colored foam. It retains sweet aroma of anise combined with chocolate. The palate is greeted with a heavy but smooth malt blast that fades into biscuity warmth.

The mouthfeel is exciting; there is a warm blanket that covers the palate; and yet, despite the alcohol, which is subtle, this one is deceptively smooth at initial sip.

As I mentioned, this beer became very popular in Russia; in fact, the mad monk Grigory Rasputin is said to have particularly enjoyed it - I guess when he wasn't seducing the Czarina. (Maybe some brewer should name an Imperial Stout after him ... Naaahh!)

Photo of StarlightSeraph
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Spring 2008 release, poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Foothills 10 oz glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark, dark brown, with a finger-and-a-half of tan head. Left quite a bit of lacing. The head subsided fairly quickly.

Smell: Coffee, milk chocolate, lactose, roasted malts. All the flavors blend together creating a really awesome scent as it warms.

Taste: Roasted malts are the most prevalent flavor, which fade to a nice alcohol bite in the background. Heavy coffee notes, with a nice balance of sweetness to temper it slightly. The roasted/coffee aftertaste lingers for quite some time. As it warms, more chocolate flavors begin to come through. A slight pepper kick in the background.

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated, but a little too thin for an Imperial Stout.

Drinkability: A very solid Imperial Stout, one that places more of an emphasis on the roasted notes than others I've had. The alcohol will sneak up on you with this one. A very good beer, but I'm not sure it's worthy of the hype. It's almost too strong of a roasted flavor, and I would have liked to see a little more balance.

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

Purchased at Root Cellar in Cincinnati, OH

A: Pours black with an almost 2 inch, khaki color head. Huge cumulus foam sits on top of the beer, coating the side of the glass with huge lacing. Very impressive pour!

S: Sweet malts, with roasted coffee undertones. Faint alcohol in background.

M/T: Medium to viscous body that seems to coat the tongue. Thick swallow and oily remnants with the after taste. Initial roasted malt punch followed by a warm alcohol burn at the back of the throat. Finishes dry and toasted. Very smooth experience from start to finish.

D: Very drinkable. Every sip seems to be an initial wave of taste, followed by a warm feel of the alcohol and then a pleasant after taste. A very very solid beer. No gimmicks on this beer, just good all the way around. If I had to describe this beer in one word, it would be "solid".

Photo of Chelsea1905
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This baby is BLACK!!! I've had porters before that I have held up to the light and seen a dark amber hue at the edges. However, this shows nothing....it's like liquid molases!

The head is a light brown with a good finger full of appearance. It fallas away and leaves a small ring around the top of the liquid and leave a decent amount of ringing. First appearance though, is brilliant!

Smells like chocolate malt, molases, treacle and then a lightness in the background.

Tastes like it smells and looks. I know that is strange to say, but when you see something this dark, you just know it is going to be a meaty beer. However, this still has a little lightness in it's aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium, not overly heavy, and I think you could finish this quite easily so drinkability is fine.

Overall, a great beer for almost half the price of something like Abyss


Photo of argock
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Screen printed "Limited 2008 Spring Release" on front label. Purchased from Market Street Wineshop (Charlottesville, VA) for $6.79.

A: Pure black with beige 1-finger head with good retention and scant bits of lace.

S: Chocolate, bitter coffee, licorice, and lightly burnt dark malts with a bit of leafy hops.

T: Mild chocolate/cocoa up front with more acrid, burnt dark malt flavors through the middle, with a touch of hops bitterness and continued licorice and molasses flavors in the finish.

M: Very silky with low carbonation and a nutty, chocolate aftertaste.

D: A very good RIS. I like a few others better, but this is very good an always easy to find. The sweetness is a bit surprising from Stone, but it is easy to tell the prodigious maltload they dedicated to this brew.

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

12 oz Bottle (Spring 2008 Release) poured into pint glass

A: Black with a thin wisp of dark chocolate colored head that fades to a thin film around the edge. Not much lacing to be seen.

S: Very complex right off the bat.... Dark roasted grains, coffee maybe prunes, currants and other dark fruits and a little hops mixed in.... You get more coffee as the brew warms up.

T: As complex taste wise as it smells... Coffee, dark roasted grains, malts, chocolate have a nice sweetness to them with notes of currants, caramel & brown sugar. The coffee, chocolate & caramel standout as the brew warms up. The finish has a little hop bitterness and some alcohol kick. Very warming.. Could be the 10.8% Alc/Vol.

M: Boy this beer is thick !!! Full-Bodied.... Low Carbination and the mouthfeel has a silky texture that coats the mouth and finishes with a nice alcohol warmth.

D: Wow... This beer is great... Everything a Stout should be...this is a big complex beer it has a lot of balance and smoothness in flavors. And only gets better as it warms. According to the bottle it ages well.... I buying more and holding it for a few months... Great Brew I will buy again and again.... Stone Brewing Nails another one !!

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

Drinking this now in a Raftman beer snifter.

Initially, head is apparent but dissipates rather quickly.
Slight lacing.

Wonderful nose with malty chocolate and, of course, the 10.8% ABV is definitely present, but not overpowering at all.

Ah, the taste, well, well, well, what have we here? Fantastic! All of the previous reviews came very close to my experience. Bitter chocolate, roasted coffee, molasses, with some cherry sneaking in at the end. Wow!

Very good mouthfeel, slight carbonation, which is fine with me. Too many bubbles get in the way!

I think this is definitely an "end of night" beer to be savored. One of the best of the style, to be sure.

This is my second tasting of this RIS, the first was last Monday night upon arriving home from my first Kate the Great tasting at the brewery in Portsmouth. More on that later, because I want to crack open one of my "Kates" and review both tap (from notes) and bottle at the same time.

Stone Brewing is on top of the "hopheap", for sure.

Drink this beer!

Photo of oldhippie247
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours as dark as possible with a thick, creamy tan head. A lot of lacing left on the glass.

Nose is full of intense dark aromas: super bitter chocolate, sweet milky chocolate, coffee, big roasted malts, and alcohol.

Bracingly bitter and big. A warm booziness takes a big role on the palate, but in no way overpowers. More roasted coffee flavors than chocolate, reversing their respective prominence on the nose. A caramel smoothness helps with balance.

First time trying this beer, but there will be at least a second. Alcohol on this one is very evident...a sipper great with cigar.

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

Received a couple bottles of this in trade. Poured this into a snifter. Pours an opaque black color with a nice dark tan head on it. Smells awesome, roasted malty goodness, bitter chocolate, and slight alcohol smell. Taste was great also. More chocolate than in the smell and more alcohol than in the smell also. Nice thick chewy mouthfeel. I drank 1 12 oz. bottle and did not need another one. The alcohol is fairly strong here. Overall an Amazing RIS

Photo of latercol
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this after a nice dinner. Poured into a oversized wine glass. Looks almost black with a thick tan head just like in the picture above... Gorgeous. had to pour slowly to keep it under control. Lacing is superb. Off to a good start.

Smell. Chocolate, cherries, sweet, wonderful, wonderful smell.

taste. There is a lot going on here. I like everything I am tasting. Alcohol level is perfect. I taste chocolate, some bitterness, but balanced. Nice.

Mouthfeel. Thick and Creamy

Overall. This is a sipper. Wonderful after a meal. Expensive, and strong. One is enough. I am savoring it :)

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

Early spring 08 release bomber consumed at Aj's Club Soda after tending bar. Pours a dark as night beautiful black with a coco brown head that dissipated in a minute or so. First sip was a bit cold it gets much, much better as it warms up a little, but the flavors are there roasted chocolate some coffee notes. and at 10.8abv it is very subtle. this i feel will get much better with some years on it so im gonna stash a few away. Not recommend as a started Stout but a must try for any stout advocate.

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

Pours black, all but impenetrable except for brown around the edgues, with a frothy, creamy, tan head with excellent retention. Smells of expresso, roastiness, and burnt chocolate. Taste is absolutely phenomenal, unforgettable. First thing you notice is the fact that its so tightly concentrated that it almost burns initially (I'm sure that the 10% abv also has something to do with that!), and then opens into sweeter, chocolatey, burnt sugar notes before finishing with dark cocoa bar and roasty bitterness. We've all tasted these flavors in other stouts and porters, but few other beers can approach the sheer concentration of these elements that Stone somehow achieves. An exceptionally full-bodied, high intensity, concentrated blast of darkness that is nothing short of astonishing. A great beer.

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

This is truly an experience... 2008 bottle... room temp...
paired with Ghardelli Dark Chocolate with raspberry filling

A - Pure darkness with a weightless caramel head

S - bitter chocolate...dark berry fruit ... (black cherry.... blackberries)

T - Cocoa...black cherry... bitter chocolate....dusty malt....dry roasted oak....tannin. Honestly drinks like an incredibly complex red Bordeaux.

M - Very light and airy...like chocolate mousse. Nice dry finish. So pleasant. Never had a stout with such a silky body.

D - This is dangerously drinkable. I recommend a 12oz bottle to play it safe...and hide the others from yourself.... or...hide your car keys and plan on taking the next day off.... I'm not your dad... I don't think?

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

Stone Imperial Russion Stout - '08 Cask
Beach Wood BBQ
A - Had the same color as all the other Stone IRS, but had a much larger foamy style head.

S - Not as many of the flavors came out in the smell, but you can smell a hint of chocolate and cherry mix.

T - It was a good taste not nearly as strong as others that were served on tap, all the same flavors just more mild

M - EXCELLENT mouthfeel. It had a warm fluffy feel

D - not as much alcohol taste coming out made this beer very drinkable anlong with the mouthfeel.

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

"Oh my God" are the words that came out of my mouth when I drank this beer. The aroma is very sweet and I can even smell it from about 1 foot away where it's sitting on the table. The mouthfeel is as good as it gets in terms of Stouts: it took me 30 minutes to finish a 22 oz bottle, but I never felt overwhelmed. Do not drink this if you are planning to go bar hopping or something, it lends itself better to an environment that you would drink wine in.

Conclusion: one of the most impressive beers I ever drank.

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

A - Poured a deep black color that produced a brown head that retained well and left a great chocolate lace around the glass

S - Coffee, chocolate, and raisins

T - Burnt chocolate malts, creamy coffee, and some dark fruits (raisins and currants), along with a nice alcoholic kick

M - Smooth and creamy, moderate to heavy body, slight carbonation

D - A very good RIS, I hope Stone does indeed start distributing down here, I would buy this a lot

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

Served in a chilled 9 oz goblet

A: Black, very black. The brew also appears to be fairly cloudy, possibly unfiltered, or less filtration.

S: Smell is rich of coffee, currants, dark chocolate, raisins with hints of vanilla and alcohol.

T: Rich and very sweet with coffee and currants with a flavor that lingers for hours after your done drinking it. The flavor is also heavy on the alcohol but is balanced with the sweetness of the brew.

M: Thick and syrupy. It would be hard to drink more than a pint of the stuff, as I'm sure it would be very filling.

D: I prefer my Russian Stouts to the brink of freezing but the flavors are unlocked as the brew approaches 45-55 degrees and it becomes more drinkable. As stated before, it would be hard to drink more than one but I really want to!

Brutal and simply amazing, its like a swift kick in the mouth with a steel-toe boot; the flavor is just intense and overwhelming and simply extraordinary. By far one of the best brews I have ever had. Highly recommended for the Imperial Stout enthusiasts!


Photo of KBoudreau66
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P- pours a dark black that has a brown ring at the top if you hold it up to the light. It has a tan head that dissipates, but will still leave lacing on the glass.

S- has the smell of roasted coffee, and chocolate up front but you can smell hints of fruit in there as well.

T- you can really taste the coffe and chocolatey flavors up front but like the smell you can pick up the fruit flavors along with alcohol which would be expected of a beer with a 10% ABV however it is disguised well amongst the other flavors.

M- Thick bodied stout.

D- for a strong stout like this it is very drinkable. Before I drank this particular stout I couldn't imagine myself drinking stout regularly, but this brew would be the exception. Another beer that is right on by Stone.

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

Enjoyed the vertical tasting of Stone 05', 07', 08', and 08' RIS cask at Beachwood BBQ with my good buddy Pehlman.

2005 Edition

A: A black liquid that consisted of a nice one-finger tan head with lacing that clung to the glass throughout the whole beer. Very little evidence of carbonation.

S: Strong cocoa and chocolate characteristics mixed in with cherry and fig fruits; reminded me of a very mild Dark Lord aroma.

T: Can you say Abyss? The little brother to the Deshuetes classic. It gives off several flavors including chocolate, cocoa, roasted coffee, licorice, figs, cherry, caramel, and a very subtle alcohol presence up front as well. The sweetness flavor almost comes off as being a bourbon, which is funny...since this beer is not aged in bourbon or brandy barrels.

M: A little chalky. Full-body with gentle carbonation and a lingering cocoa/roasty taste on the palate.

D: Alcohol was hidden very well and the flavor was deep and rich. This makes for a deadly combination.

2007 Edition

A: Similar to the 05' version , but appeared to have more carbonation. Lacing was decent.

S: Flavor consisted of a more robust dark chocolate than any of the other aromas that were present in the 05' version, along with a strong alcohol bit.

T: Roasted malts, chocolate, and dark fruits. Alcohol was present as well.

M: Full-body with light carbonation. Thinner than what I expected.

D: Alcohol sensation is very apparent, but flavor keeps you intrigued. Yummy!

2008 Edition

A: Same as 07' version (refer to previous edition)

S: Refer to 07' version.

T: A milder and smoother version of the 07' edition, but not as complex in flavor profile as the 05' Stone RIS.

M: Full-body and medium carbonation.

D: Awesome!

08' Cask

A; The most frothy looking head out of all four tasters, this beer consisted of a 1 to 2 finger head that included spider-web lacing along the surface of the my glass.

S: Subtle amounts of chocolate and cocoa flavor mixed in with a slight vanilla extract.

T: Very airy and rubbery (in a good way thought, lol)...almost reminded me of a very strong dry stout, but with more flavor. Roasty, chocolate, and caramel. Alcohol was extremely well hidden.

M: Light and almost no presence of carbonation.


Overall: Out of all the tastings, the 05' edition was the best by far...which leads me to believe that aging this beer only increases its flavor profile. A top 10 beer which deserves the "world class" status that it has on BA. Very similar to the Abyss, along with hints of Dark Lord make this beer a must have by all beer lovers. WOW! Cheers!

P.S. Cellar this beer!!!!

Photo of ThirdLap
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

While Sierra Nevada Pale Ale gets the credit for turning me on to craft beer, Stone Imperial Russian Stout was the proverbial straw that broke camel's back. There was no looking back after that first sip.

This '08 bottle pours a near opaque black with a short-lasting chunky tan head. After dissipating completely, a slight ring remains. Agitation results in a gorgeous frothy return. Lacing is minimal.

My nose is filled with roasted malt, dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and a touch of soy. I've noticed a bit more in this year's batch, but nothing that takes away from the overall experience. This bottle is almost a year old now, and the alcohol seems as though it might be mellowing out at bit.

Taste is dark fruits, chocolate, and an oaky, candied sweetness. Alcohol is well-hidden, with only a slight burn. Hop presence is very well-balanced. Swallowing produces a strong coffee (almost espresso-like) taste in the mouth. Slight medicinal characteristics.

Mouthfeel is creamy and tangy, full-bodied, with only the need for a touch more carbonation. There's a bitter finish that coats the mouth just right after each sip.

Drinkability is a standout for the style. I could drink these everyday, and a bomber disappears far too fast.

While this may end up not being my highest-scoring RIS, it is arguably my favorite. A fantastic beer.

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

Poured from a bottle into a flute. This pours a deep brown motor oil that is opaque when held to the light. The 1/2 inch tan-colored head is short lived and leaves a nice lacing around the edges.

The aroma was a bit unusual to me. You can pick up bourbon and oak notes, but also brown sugar and banana. Mix this is a dark chocolate and coffee mix and it is unique.

The taste is a nice blend of chocolate and coffee. There are also notes of tobacco and brown sugar. The is a very mild hoppy background.

The mouthfeel is fairly heavy bodied with a high level of carbonation, which blends nicely with the flavor. It leaves a very crisp finish, which is unusual mixed with a creamy sticky beer.

Overall, this is a great beer for the style and it is quite drinkable. I will continue to monitor for its availability and get it when possible.

Photo of n811
3.28/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Spring 2008 version.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, revealing a small head despite an aggressive pour which dissipated almost immediately.

This brew has a great smell - dark roasted grains, coffee, and hints of licorice.

Taste was less than stellar. The alcohol is not very well masked, with a slightly astringent flavor. A bit of a disappointment.

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

Poured from the bottle a dark brown-almost black with two fingers of rich mocha head which leaves a beautiful curtain of lacing around the glass.

Aroma of roasted malts, coffee, caramel, toffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, nuts, and a whiff of booze.

The taste is big and bright. Roasted malts, espresso, dark chocolate, vanilla, dark red fruits, charcoal, and rye bread. The almost-11% alcohol is much more subtle than expected.

Medium-to-full bodied, smooth and creamy, with a moderate carbonation.

A RIS that is tough to beat and very drinkable for such a big beer.

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

06 on tap at the brewery.
The beer that revitalized my desire to drink beer. I was considering going on a long term beer break until I went to the brewery and had this world class beer. I had the 08 spring version out of a bottle and it was not half as good. This masterpiece was meant for cellaring. The oaked arrogant bastard was amazing, but this blew me away.
Revels in the darkest shade of black. The aromas can't be contained. The flavors are so complex I can't begin to identify them. The basic ones I taste are velvety chocolate, coffee, and fruity notes. The 10.8 has to be a misprint since I'm pretty sure I ordered a beer and not a heavenly chocolate shake. There's a thick, endless stickiness that coats the mouth.
Thank you stone for making me a believer.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- One inch brown head with pretty good head retention and good lacing. Black beer that lets no light through.

S- Nice toasted barley, dark chocolate and some sweet molasses. Hints of dark fruit and some alcohol. Some fruit bread aromas, and hints of vanilla.

T- Dark chocolate and toasted whole wheat bread. Some sweet molasses and charcoal. Plum and other dark fruits with an alcohol bite.

M- Medium to full bodied not as thick as other RIS's I have tired. Good carbonation but a little too much alcohol bite.

Overall- A good imperial stout lots of good flavor but too much of an alcohol presence.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 7,287 ratings.