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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.

6,915 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,915
Reviews: 2,582
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 517
Gots: 1,504 | FT: 84
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: 6,915 | Reviews: 2,582 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%

Pours pitch black. Tan head slowly falls leaving a lot of lacing. Very slightly roasted earthy malts. Molasses tones. Flavor is just beautiful. And amazing. Thick malt tones. Just so robust and consistent. Alcohol doesn't seem to show up at all. Feel is amazing on the liquid. Extremely drinkable. A RIS that sits at 10.8& alcohol? Easily could be a recipe for disaster, but this just comes out magnificently. Easily one of the best beers ever created, IMO. If you haven't had a chance to try it yet, I really hope you get one.

RblWthACoz, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of bigman147
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Bottle dated 2006.

Apperance: Pours a blackish brown (almost glossy opaque). Head is maybe 2-3 inches but fades quickly to a dark brown ring around the color. Lacing is wonderful and appearance is above average.

Aroma: Like all RIS, this has a dark roasty toasty malt character. Aromas of chocolate and coffee. Spicy dark winter fruit cake with a present alcohol nose

Taste: Bitter coffee and sweet chocolate give way to a delicate sweet finish reminiscent of good Beligan Dark chocolates. Bitterness from hops tends to linger slightly but helps to balance with alcohol which starts out somewhat hot in the back of the throat.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and rich carbonation which helps cut the at times thick almost cloying sweetness. Alcohol heat and coffee bitterness give this a thinner finish even with the creamy sweetness.

Drinkability: Not the most drinkable beer (considering the style). An excellent special occasion beer to warm you on a cold winter day when you come in from shoveling or skiing or whatever.. Not a session beer nor is supposed to be.

bigman147, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of Dansting
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%

Bottle. Poured a blackish-brown color with a light brown head. Good lacing. Aroma was sweet with a hint a vanilla, coffee, and roasted malt that usually come with this style. Mouthfeel is really nice. Flavor is unreal. Malty, chocolate, a touch of coffee...this is what an imperial stout should taste like. This is a very good beer that maybe someday I can get locally. I wish at least.

Dansting, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of stemcell001
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%

Cellared for six months and poured into a pint glass. Dark, pitch black body with a very tan head. Wonderful smell of roated malts and coffee. Very complex taste with strong coffee notes, spicy hops and hints of anise and other spices. Very potent brew which is a drawback concerning drinkability. I don't see how I could drink more than one of these in an evening. Despite this small flaw, Stone makes a wicked Russian Imperial Stout, most likely the best I have had of the style.

stemcell001, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of Monsone
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Reviewed from notes

A - Pours dark black with a brown head that slowly disapates leaving a nice lace behind.

S: Dark malt with coffee and chocolate.

T: Tastes of dark, roasted malt with just a hint of coffee and choco. There is some booze at the end.

M: Thickwith decent carbo.

D: Heavy, but good drinkability for the style.

Overall a pretty good RIS. I have had better but this is a great option that is much easier to obtain than others in the style.

Monsone, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of SargeC
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%

Appearance: Black as a Tony Iommi riff with a dense brown head.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, the goodness of malt, sugar, alcohol, hops.

Taste: Touch of smoke, followed by chocolate, coffee and toffee sweetness. Strong, bitter hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick, dense full body. Violently satisfying.

Drinkability: This is a special brew. You can feel its power course through your veins as you drink it. It is a well-balanced Russian Imperial Stout. It has smoky, sweet and bitter character in one brew.

SargeC, Dec 22, 2007
Photo of connecticutpoet
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%

Tasted at Julio's Liquors, in Westborough, MA. My father then purchased a bottle for me, and it has been cellaring for a year and a half. It will be superb next summer.

This beer had a head just under half a finger, composed of very tiny bubbles. It was incredibly dark brown, nearly black, and clear.

Aroma was of dark and roasted malts, complex and blended, and bitter chocolate.

Taste was of very strong roasted malts, as expected. However, as in the nose, it was evident that they were blended and each brought out the best in the others. Some bitter chocolate and coffee notes, but the roasted flavor overshadowed this. The alcohol was very evident.

Mouthfeel was smooth, silky, and creamy. Quite nice.

Drinkability is very good... but the flavor was so strong, I thought it could use some time to mellow it a bit.

All in all, an excellent brew.

connecticutpoet, Dec 22, 2007
Photo of Tolann
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%

A - How did they take the picture fast enough to capture so much head on this beer? The head quickly disappears and no lace. Color is clear but nearly opaque. I think you'd need a high powered spot light to get light to penetrate this beer, and then your glass would melt...

S - Sweet with a bit of milk chocolate. Some fruity smells. I think it's the raisins like in what i'm tasting. It's like a chocolate covered raisin.

T - Sweet taste up front. Some bitterness at the end. Raisins, and roasty malt. Yum-O Other reviews mention licorice....Yeah, maybe. I'm still thinking of a sweet chocolate covered raisin with a kick.

M - Little boozy that warms your chest. Very pleasant. Medium body and smooth across your pallet. Not a lot of carbonation

D - A really wonderful beer. Glad I made the impulse buy when I saw it was the last bottle in the back room.

Chocolate covered raisins. Final answer.

Tolann, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%

A- Pours deep motor oil black with a thick foamy light brown head. Head eventually completely dissipates and some lacing is left behind near the top of the glass. When held up to the light nothing penetrates the opaque blackness.

S-Smell is rich in deep chocolate malt and warm roastiness. The alcohol is slightly noticeable in the background along with hints of licorice and anise. The smell is slightly sweet and very welcoming.

T-Taste is very similar to the smell. Rich, semi-sweet dark chocolate malt upfront with hints of licorice and anise. The dark chocolate intensifies for the finish and becomes slightly bitter as a big toasted malt character emerges. What lingers on the palate are hints of bitter dark chocolate, toasted malt, and toffee-all wrapped in a soft alcohol blanket.

M- Medium carbonation with a heavy and rich body with a slight alcohol slickness. The body is not to thick-which increases drinkability immensely.

D- This is one great RIS. Stone produces some awesome dark beers. I was really impressed by this one as well as the smoked porter. This one is very rich-but not too rich and it is my favorite RIS so far. I will definitely purchase this one again. This beer is definitely worth the hype.

PittBeerGirl, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of PEBKAC
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%

On tap at Blind Tiger for the sensory overload they called 12/12/12/12.

Chilled to the point of haze coming off the beer, I had to wait. Everything was being served a degree off frozen it seemed. An inch of milk chocolate head cemented the black & brown brew shut until I was ready to partake.

I smelt ash & molasses. I thought I smelt the potential for diacetyl, but it didn't come through in the taste. The hops were green & itchy to my nose, but neutral.

The buds sense a little lactose to go along with the creaminess of chocolate. But it's the taste of charcoal & burnt BBQ drippings that I really enjoyed. Savoriness itself flamed, caramelized, & concentrated for your imbibing pleasure. The hops felt muted. They are more obvious on the finish when the beer thins out. A little bit of soap & little over-roast if I can describe them at all.

Frothy, but not necessarily thick. The alcohol was of course noticeable, but doesn't fume like a high ABV does more often then not. It rinses down without being sticky trying to coat.

I definitely want another, but can I handle it?

PEBKAC, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of OKCNittany
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%

22oz bomber poured into a goblet

A: Poured a thin brown head that didn't last too long or leave much lacing. Near black body that after awhile seemed to resemble a very dark red wine. I'd normally take off a bit more for the lack of head retention & lacing, but it looked too damn good after the initial pour.

S: Powerful aroma of chocolate and roasted malt. Outstanding.
Alcohol exerts itself as it warms, adding dark fruit characteristics & making the smell even better.

T: There's too much flavor to capture it all in a few sentences. Rich dark chocolate & roasted malt headline, with dark fruit and a touch of alcohol in the background. Well balanced, complex, and big big BIG.

M: Full body. Very low carbonation yet not flat. Really the perfect mouthfeel with a slight alcohol warming.

D: Surprisingly and dangerously drinkable for 10.8% abv. I had to keep reminding myself to only sip. No offense to Victory Storm King, but I think I have a new favorite.

I'll probably spend some extra time in pergatory for this, but I can't help but wonder if there'd be more Christians now if Jesus would have turned the water into this instead of wine.

OKCNittany, Dec 09, 2007
Photo of Trueant1
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%

Pours a dark brown hue. Lays in the glass a pitch black! Has a thin brown head that looks creamy. Good lace coating.

Smells of many things. Up front is creamy milk chocolate. Followed by dark fruits and black licorish.

Tastes like the smells! Milk chocolate up front, and black licorish.
More bitter than I thought. Warming alcohol is very noted.The alcohol and bitter hops linger on in the after taste...YUMMMM!!! Coffie is present as well. YUMM!!

This RIS drinks like a full meal. Very thick, sweet, and filling. Wonder what the calories are on this one? How much malt did they use? Must have been a TON.

This is a great sipper for me. Unfortunatly I could sip this one for the rest of my life without stopping.


Trueant1, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of ElGordo
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%

2007 edition, poured from the 22oz bottle into a snifter. Body is as dark as a black steer's tuckus on a moonless prairie night, topped by a thin brown head that disappears almost immediately. Aroma of huge amounts of roasted malt, a good bit of alcohol, and notes of dark fruit (prunes, raisins). Palate is highly complex and changes from sip to sip. Up front roasty malt melds with an almost cola-like sweetness, only to quickly yield to the presence of tons of bittering hops. Notes of fruit and a musty yeast are evident on the swallow, along with some of the dark fruit notes observed on the nose. The hops leave a lasting bitterness on the finish.
The body is thick, smooth, and just a touch oily, simply perfect for the Russian imperial stout style. This is certainly a beer to be cautiously savored, as the high ABV and huge malt content can have you out for the count in no time. And, I foud it goes quite well with chocolate chip cookies. Take that, chocolate milk!

ElGordo, Dec 06, 2007
Photo of boogles
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%

WOW! My local store had the bombers for a long time, and I enjoyed supporting their enthusiastic purchase. Poured from bomber, very thick and dark, really dark head and black body. Drinks thicker. Almost too much for me. Past perfect. Thank God they kept going and didn't wuss out. This is one where I need to work up the mood for. But that's not so hard. Truly a Russian, this big hitter is worth it. Again and again.

I got one for my dad, who drinks Coors light but claims to like good beer. I asked him what he thought, and he said he poured it down the sink. In case beer karma is real, please pray for his soul.

boogles, Dec 04, 2007
Photo of LeftyBWS
3.95/5  rDev -9%

Poured from a 22 oz. brown bomber into a Sam Adams pint glass. 2007 release.
A: Deep dark brown in color, tinges of black. Two inches of full, rich brown head. Slippery lacing down the sides that falls back into the beer.
S: Sugary, chocolatey and earthy malts predominate. Notes of coffee, fruit (cherry?), and some grassy and bready scents. Warming lets the coffee and sugars out more. Overall, well-balanced and quite nice.
T: Chocolate malts at first, smooth and sweet. Tiny bit of fruit flavors noticeable. Next comes a roasted coffee taste, with some lingering sweetness. Finish is also sugary and smooth, but with a big alcohol taste that's almost unpleasant.
M: Very strong on the alcohol. Other than that, satisfying and smooth; full but not too filling.
D: Not bad, but definitely 10% ABV, in taste and feel.

LeftyBWS, Dec 01, 2007
Photo of andrewm190
4.93/5  rDev +13.6%

My beer grades tend to be high. There are two reasons for this. 1. I like beer. 2. Most of my beer reviews are only from beers that are micro (good/better beers).

This is my favorite beer yet tasted, and by a sizable margin. Even from about a foot and a half away, the opening of the bottle revealed a delicious aromatic smell that rolled right into my nose. The smell and taste, naturally meet. Strong chocolate sense, very sweet, also a good sense of coffee tones. The chocolate is a bit more aggressive, and the more dominant sense. Also a faint sense of roasted malts. The alcohol is present, but well blended, and very finely balanced. As a result the mouth feel is one of the best I have ever had with a beer.
The imperial stout has a very high alcohol level, so one pint is about all most will be able to handle before going into the "freshman at college" party level.

An asterisk for those how aren't dark beer fans: if you don't like dark beer, you might still like this one, and if you don't I just don't know what to tell you. For those of you who love beer, but dark is just something you do occasionally, this beer may be a bit intense, but I'm sure you will appreciate it. For those of us who love a dark beer, this is, I believe, the benchmark. A gold medal from Stone.

andrewm190, Dec 01, 2007
Photo of cordelia3310
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%

Presentation: 22oz bomber. "Limited 2007 Spring Release"

Appearance: Dark as night with a nice pillowy tan head. After some time the head does dissipate, leaving some lacing around the glass

Smell: Some molasses. Big roasted coffee smell. Also a hint of some fruit, fig maybe?

Taste: This had a vicious mouthfeel. Syrupy, but not overwhelmingly so. To my surprise, I also got a good amount of hop flavor. This beer is so delicious and complex. I'm going to get a couple more bombers and age em to let some of the more vicious flavors mellow out. Hands down one of the best stouts I've ever had. Ranks up there with Victory Storm King.

cordelia3310, Nov 29, 2007
Photo of RiekerStarBrew
3.6/5  rDev -17.1%

When poured from its bottle into my sniffer glass, this beer had a brown head capping a black beer with no clarity. When I tilted my glass to the side, there was very heavy, sticky lacing on the glass. The aroma was of sweet, grainy malt with a subtle alcohol. There was a slight aroma of bittersweet dark chocolate. The flavor was very full-bodied. What struck me first was the large hop presence with its full, bitter boquet. It also had a burnt grains flavor and finished sweet. This is a very full beer with a lot of ingredients. You can tell the brewery did not skimp on this recipe.

RiekerStarBrew, Nov 26, 2007
Photo of MiScusi
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%

(late November, 2007)
2004 version On tap at the Stone Bistro, making this about 3 1/2 years old. Pours a dark dark brown almost black, with a dark tan creamy head. The aroma and taste contain dark chocolate and roasted malts, though the roastiness is much more subdued than younger versions. The alcohol is also quite a bit less recognizable. The melding between the roastiness and chocolate is superb, making for an easily drinkable rich stout. The mouthfeel was very smooth. I can't imagine this one peaking any more than it has now.

(September 2007)
2006 version on at the Stone World Bistro & Gardens. poured thick black with a dark tan head. The smell was a combo of dark malts, some roastiness, and alcohol. None of these single components were overbearing, it all blended together really nicely, and was a lot less roasty than I expected. The taste was pretty similar as nothing was really overbearing but it all blended together very nicely. The chocolate wasn't too chocolatey, the roastiness wasn't too bitter though it did give off a touch of coffee flavor. The mouthfeel was as thick as it should be and nothing more or less. Very drinkable for such a big beer.

(late December 2006)
2005 version on tap at the Stone Bistro, (guess about 1 1/2 years old or a little more by now). Deep deep brown, basically black, not much of a head but a little tan thin and creamy foam up top. Chocolate malt, coffee, and alcohol dominate this beer, and it is very smooth. Rolls over your tongue without any carbonated bite but with a little alcohol heat.

MiScusi, Nov 26, 2007
Photo of DaggerEyes
4.47/5  rDev +3%

2006 Bomber pulled out and poured into a snifter black as nigh with a one finger high dark tan head.

Great Nose. sweat dark fruits, plums, raisins, figs mixed with brown sugar, chocolate a slight bit of vanilla. a total treat on the nose

Mellowed out nicely on the tongue but can maybe even still use some more time in the cellar. A very slight bit smokey, chocolate and coffee notes, the dark fruit is hear at well.

A medium body that is incredibly round in the mouth with a modest amount of fine bubbled carbonation. Creamy and smooth with a clean finish accompanied by some dark chocolate smokiness.

A truly great stout and one that is proving to only get better with age, I have another 2006 hidden away and may just sit on it for another year

DaggerEyes, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of MarkSCCOT
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%

Was able to sample this beer at the November 2007 Charleston BA tasting courtesy of TedsButcherBlock (Scott). Between him and RNorgart (Breakfast Stout!!) I really have had my interest revived in this class.

A. Like a black hole. Pours dark as motor oil and try as I might I couldn't see any light through this beer or it's edges. Coffee Mocha Latte head with decent lacing!!

S. This beer jumps out and grabs you by the nose. This is a busy beer. Hops, malt, coffee, chocolate and some kind of exotic fruit.

T. This is a world class beer. Malt and hops. Raisins, figs, fruit. Dark bread and birch.

M. Thick chewy creamy beer with a good alcohol burn. This is a beer to take out and enjoy slowly. Sip it smell it and enjoy.

D. Could drink it all night, but can't. This would have a 5 also if it were available more. It really deserves a 4.75 but that isn't an option.

This is one of the first highly rated beers I have had that truly lived up to it's hype!! It deserves it's ranking.

MarkSCCOT, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of ByTor2112
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%

Pours an inky black. A one finger thick head forms but but reduces to a thin film, brown in color. Very nice color contrast against the black body of the stout.
Aroma-cocoa, chocolate,smoky, some woody notes and roasted malty aromas.
Mouthfeel-smooth, silky, potent. Very rich with dark roasted coffee flavors. I get some alcohol warmth. A froth on the palate intensifies the alcohol and releases some more intense flavors-medicinal and the hop profile flourishes with a decent bitterness. the finish lingers with some dark or roasted malt flavors, almost a burnt taste. As this warms up even more I get some licorice and anise flavors. A certain sweetness comes through with the additional warmth. Not overly complex but layered with many flavors coming and going. I am never disappointed by any of Stone's offerings.
Its Pravda! Skol!

ByTor2112, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of jjayjaye
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Pours an opaque darkness with a wispy full finger dark tan head that resists fading. The smell is wonderfully rich and thick, dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans. There is also a touch of vanilla and oak age treatment. Lightly carbonated, the mouth feel has a thick yet smooth texture. The syrupy coating sensation is light yet the roasty choco-java flavor lingers nicely. The 10.8% ABV is present in the nose but otherwise well hidden. Immensely quaffable, highly recommended.

jjayjaye, Nov 16, 2007
Photo of jackhammer54
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%

Kudos to Stone for creating a beer that will bring a tear of joy to ones eye. I must say after having a Stone Imperial Russian Stout makes drinking “supermarket” next to a sin. Buyer beware you will no longer be able to consume inferior beverage after this experience. From start to finish it was everything I wished this would be. For starters when poured the appearance was super cool rich and dark and creamy just like you would expect. The smell again is warm, rich and luxurious. The taste is complex, not to heavy or strong. Mouthfeel was smooth as silk, coating my whole mouth and continuing down the throat. Drinkability is a joy, easily a year round beer. No longer are stouts reserved for great meals and winter time for me. Thank You Stone

jackhammer54, Nov 11, 2007
Photo of Boppar
4.47/5  rDev +3%

22-oz. bomber purchased in May and cellared until tonight and served in a pint glass.

A: Pours jet black with three fingers of leathery head. Excellent head retention, terrific lacing.

S: Molasses, rum, vanilla.

T: Tastes exactly the way it smells. Slight alcohol warmth that is nowhere near the 10.8% ABV listed on the bottle.

M: It felt a bit thin for a RIS. On the one hand, it was impressive that a beer this big could feel so thin. ON the other, a RIS should be a meal. I want to have to cut it with a knife and chew it.

D: This is about as drinkable as this style gets.

Boppar, Nov 10, 2007
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,915 ratings.