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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.

7,044 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,044
Reviews: 2,590
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 539
Gots: 1,557 | FT: 87
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: 7,044 | Reviews: 2,590 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of edskirk3
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Limited Spring 2006 Release. I planned on saving it for at least the fall, but I could resist no longer. I used a pint glass. It's viscous. It's opaque black with a creamy, sticky mocha head. It looks formidable.

Complex aroma. Chocolate, coffee, and burnt malts. And alcohol. Other stuff I'm not too sure of. Dark fruit? Black cherries?

Take a few sips and... oh yeah. It's Imperial, all right. At first, I'm thinking bitter chocolate, or coffee without sugar. Keep drinking and more levels of flavor are revealed to you. On the back of the bottle they mention anise and black currants. I will admit, I don't know what those things are. That's why we have Wikipedia:

"Roasting enhances the flavor of anise... also used in anise-flavored liqueurs (such as raki, arak and ouzo) and is the dominant ingredient used in the infamous and sometimes-banned liquor absinthe. It is also used in soft drinks such as root beer."

"Blackcurrants have a very sweet and sharp taste. They are made into jelly, jam, juice, ice cream, cordial and liqueur. In the UK, Europe and Commonwealth countries, some types of confectionery include a blackcurrant flavour, but this is generally missing in the United States, even within the same brand. Instead grape flavour in candy (including grape jelly) almost mirrors the use of blackcurrant in both its ubiquity in the USA, and its rarity on the eastern side of the Atlantic."

Now I know. And now that I think of it, another flavor comes to mind: licorice. Black licorice.

"It should be noted, though, that in most of these [licorice] candies the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil..."

Now I know. I am that much more intelligent and that much more numb after drinking this beer. Yes, it's a sipper. A philosophical sipper. Do not gulp. The alcohol is quite obvious, but it does not detract from the overall flavor profile.

I am nourished, Stone Brewing Company. Well done.

edskirk3, Jul 07, 2006
Photo of TheBeerWolf
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Man this is a great beer! Saw some at the store and bought the last four bottles they had. The head is light brown and thick, takes a bit to clear up. The taste is heavy stout all the way but I could definately taste the alcohol. Not too big on stouts but love this one. Goes great with a steak! One of my overall favorite beers! Hits you something fierce, don't mess around with this beer!

TheBeerWolf, Jul 05, 2006
Photo of chelovek
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours like crude oil but looks like black gold to me. The head forms to a nice almost purple-ish hue. Smells like a chocolate coffee and slight alcohol. The taste kicks the crap out of my tongue, with delightfulness of course, bringing to light the smell that was heaved in but plum and raisens crept in to my surprise. Mouthfeel is fantabulous. Yes I just used that word but if you try the damn beer you will see what I mean. The Alcohol, though apparent in the smell, is masked well considering 10.8 %. I think last years offering is a little better but the 2006 early summer release is yet another supurb offering by Stone. An imperial stout that is hard to match.

chelovek, Jul 03, 2006
Photo of Gregorious
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Heard some good things, so I figured I'd go see for myself....
Bottle opened and poured into awaiting chalice...

Paired with seared steak served over lentils with some Dijon mustard...

A - Even the dark knight of gotham city wasn't this dark. Nice rich head that made a very enticing sound as the bubbles dissipated. Could see hues of auburn and gold when swirling around the glass.

S - Pleasant enough to simply smell. A very blended mature smell that reminded me of cloves, charcoal, oak, coffee, dark chocolate, and dried fruit...oh and a little sharp alcohol at the end.

T - Extremely pleasant. Stouts are not even my favorite type of beer and this baby just put a smile on my face. The flavor was not overwhelmed by the "take-no-crap" 10.8%. A soothing "roasty toasty" warm malt flavor covers the tongue, only to be woken up quickly by an alcohol bite.

M - Simply pleasant and warm...makes you feel as if you're at your grandma's warming your feet by the fire.

D - In one word....scary. In two, scary and delicious!
I finished a whole bottle of this in an afternoon ofcourse..not noticing that this baby is a whopping 10.8%. After my meal and pouring the last remnants into my gullet, my footing wavered and made me wonder "What the hell is in this stuff?" Upon seeing the 10.8%...with a serious face I quietly walked into my bedroom and took a nap.

Very good *sneaky* beer...

Gregorious, Jul 03, 2006
Photo of shbobdb
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It reminds me a lot of Avery's The Czar.

It actually reminds me a lot of Celebrator. It's got the deep, dark fruit flavours that make Doppelbocks so wonderful -- plums and raisins, most raisins really. This is counterbalanced by a light, powdery 'darkness' that ephemeral bitterness that roasted barley can contribute when used in just the right balance.

As it warms, the alcohol definately becomes more biting. I would say that is really the only flaw with this beer. That, and the hopiness seems to be fighting with the roasted barley. The two, very different kinds of bitterness are really fighting for attention here. It's more like two spoiled brats rather than a heavyweight champion fight.

Yeah, this beer definately does not benefit from warming. Ironic, it is usually the reverse.

shbobdb, Jun 28, 2006
Photo of arguemaniac
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Perhaps the thickest, darkest beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling; pours an oily, opaque black with a rich brown head that EVENTUALLY reduces to a heavy, sprawling lace. The earthy aroma features mainly coffee and chocolate. The robust and very complex palate includes a variety of roasted and burnt flavors such as coffee, bitter chocolate, burnt grain, as well as some dark rum notes and some distinct hints of dark fruit (raisins, plum, etc). The rich, lingering finish has a satisfying burnt bitterness. The mouthfeel is very thick with mildly active carbonation.

What a great Imperial stout: rich, thick with very nice burnt flavors and a great overall complexity. The alcohol is well hidden, barely detectable considering the nearly 11% ABV. It’s not quite as good as in years past, but honestly, the difference is so minimal that it could be my taste buds numbing down or my palate becoming more “demanding.” In any event, it’s still very good and entirely satisfying. Highly recommended.

arguemaniac, Jun 26, 2006
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz. Bomber(S) bottle 2006 spring release.Updated with Spring 2008.

Very thick black color, Totally opaque...are you kidding?Light? No, we're on the darkside here folks! dark-macha brown head, medium in size, stuck around as long as I had the beer in the glass. Dense and thick, reminds me very much of the 30 year old Courage IRS, but even thicker.

The nose is bold and very aromatic: Deep, rich baker's Chocolate, honey roasted almonds,Subtle, rich ground coffee, Great balance of aroma's, with a tremendous balance of peppery, earthy hops.

Many of the top-rated RIS cannot boast about a sublime balance, this one achieves a very high degree of that. The Rich, chalky, full-bodied malt with deep, dark chocolate is only equaled in intensity by a PERFECT earthy, peppery and semi-dry hop counter punch. The flavor is what I imagine a "Peak" Courage IRS would be like, only with a bigger, warmer heat that is not over-powering, but just right. Heady-ass malt with a non-bitter hop finish is exactly what the doctor ordered. Dr. GratefulBeerGuy, that is !


GratefulBeerGuy, Jun 25, 2006
Photo of AaronHomoya
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz brown bottle shared with my friend Dave. 2006 Spring Release.

Pours an amazingly black color with a dark head that lasts for a bit. Smell is complex, sweet, roasted, alcohol and a bit of hops. The taste is very nice - a blend of sweetness, alcohol, dark fruit, roasted coffee and a slightly bitter finish. Mouthfeel is nice and thick with little carbonation and a fairly clean finish that leaves the mouth salivating for more. A great beer and RIS. I'm excited to see how it ages.

AaronHomoya, Jun 20, 2006
Photo of BDTyre
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had really hoped to buy more than one so I could age a bottle...but I managed to grab the last bottle from the Bottle Shoppe in Bellingham and it seems like they weren't expecting anymore.

2006 Edition. Brewed and bottled whilst wearing (fake) fur hats.

First, I'll get the bad out of the way. The smell isn't very strong, and comes off as one dimensional. Dark malts, roasted malts. Very faint hops. Slighty vinous scent. Not very strong...typical of Imperial Stouts, but nothing that grabs me.

Drinkable in that this is quite enjoyable for the style...but the big bottle and high ABV limits this to a one, maybe two a night...if you can find that many.

The good. Rich, deep taste. Dark malts, roasted malts, winey and port hints. Lovely black appearance with a thin, quickly dissappating brown head. Thick on the mouth, very little carbonation... Rich, complex body. Excellent imperial stout.

I really enjoy this...worth the praise it gets. Wish I had been able to grab more than one. I look forward to hopefully getting the 2007 release.

BDTyre, Jun 20, 2006
Photo of horndecker
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Inky black, oily, reddish-purple tinge at the edges. Slow-motion fine froth forms eventually. Carbonation is there however, just held in check by the alcohol. Big malt and espresso runs through the nose. Caramel, bittersweet chocolate, orange peel. Syrupy sweet start to the taste - turkish coffee, roasted malt, burnt edges, dark fruits. Long finish slowly turns mildly bitter and earthy. Alcohol shows itself in the aftertaste, a little bit of lip-numbing tongue-tickling burn. Still remains smooth and silky down the hatch. Nothing harsh. Mouthfeel is fine, full and foamy. The aftertaste actually has two parts, at first a mild alcoholic chocolate bitterness, the second being a bright herbal tang.

This stuff is gorgeous and dangerous.

horndecker, Jun 20, 2006
Photo of nortmand
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours black black black. Half inch of mocha brown head lingers for a long while.

Chocolate roast dominates the smell. Some winey raisin scents as well. Incredible.

Dominating flavor. Sweet chocolate, bitter roast. Caramel, raisins, alcohol. Huge, yet so damn refined. Better than the best wine hands down. Absolutely fantastic.

Smooth and silky on the tongue, incedibly tasty and very drinkable. A finely crafted ale.

nortmand, Jun 20, 2006
Photo of msubulldog25
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. 2006 edition, poured into pint glass.

A: Impenetrable jet black with a slight mocha head, which quickly disappears.

S: Wonderful chocolate & coffee smells, with candy and alcohol also present. Robust and complex. It's worth spending a while inhaling this one before taking the first sip. Well, not TOO much time...

T: Stone makes big, overpowering beers and this is no exception. The flavors of IRS are as rich and full as the smell. The chocolate comes off as bittersweet, the caramelly-candy melds nicely with a warm alcohol finish. Bitterness and maltiness nicely balanced.

M: The alcohol and bittersweet flavors make this beer slightly clingy on the palate, but the flavors are so good I hardly mind. Very thick, full-bodied.

D: Very enjoyable as a sipping beer. Only gets better as it warms. I finished the bottle over the course of about 90 minutes, savoring the flavors in between sips.

Overall, an excellent beer; understandable why it's so highly rated on BA. I have 3 more bottles which I'll keep in the basement to enjoy over the 12-18 months.

msubulldog25, Jun 19, 2006
Photo of Kendo
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

OK, here's the scoop on the 2004 release:

Poured a dark, impenetrable black with a chocolate milkshake-colored head. Smelled of chocolate -- unsweetened cocoa and dark chocolate, with a tad bit of fruity sweetness. Mmmm. Candy. A truly enticing scent.

As for taste: my first thought was the alcohol -- it was more up front than in the 2006. Next I noticed the chocolate and a bit of licorice, fighting with the malt and coffee flavors for dominance. Not sure any one of them was declared the winner, and oddly enough (compared to the 2006 at least), the hops were pretty muted. Not sure if it's because this is a different recipe or because the aging had toned down that bitterness, allowing the malty, sweet flavors to take charge. . . .

Mouthfeel: I described it as thick and rich but also velvety, with just a tad bit of carbonation dancing around in there. Definitely a heavy beer, but relatively modest in heft on the tongue. Nice balance.

All in all we were most impressed with the nose of the 2004 compared to the 2006. But on taste the general consensus was that the 2006 was a little bit better. But both are excellent. If you find them, buy them. And enjoy.

Drinkability: The high ABV and taste of alcohol detracts from the overall drinkability. However, I'd love to have a couple of these while sitting by a campfire on a cool Fall night.

A shout out to MRMOJORISIN for sharing from his obscenely well-stocked stash.

Kendo, Jun 14, 2006
Photo of Kicksmile67
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very strong brew. Most things that stone make are this way so I expected a powerful drink. The Appearance is like oil. Its thick and dark as night. The smell is fantastic. All I can say is interesting. Black curant and even wildberry notes are in this. The taste is intense. Strong and hard to break down. There are similar tastes to the smell with notes of coffee and even chocolate. The mouthfeel is my only complaint. Its almost dirty, but in a good way. Not my bag but I can tell its a fine brew. Not something I will buy again so I cant give a 5 on drinkability.

Kicksmile67, Jun 12, 2006
Photo of sockeye101
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Holy glass of black perfection....thick, smooth, an absolute masterpiece. This beer is a rare find. I just about cracked open my bottle of Old Guardian that I'm cellaring becuase I just needed a 'kick you in the ass and leave you for dead' kind of brew. But luckily I got ahold of a Russian Stout. The pour was slow and deliberate and it oozed out thickly to produce a nice head of tans and light browns, the glass completely impenetrable by light. I held the glass up in direct sunlight, and failed to see the sun on the other side....how fitting for this beer, so complex and complete it can block out the sun. I let the stout sit for several minutes to warm ever so slightly and took a whiff. Coffee, chocolates, a bit of an earthy tone and the flavors of heavily roasted malts. I prepared myself for liftoff, raised my glass and took a sip. Outstanding. Rich, smooth, thick, the mouthfeel was exceptional. Flavors of coffee, roasted fruits, alcohol, and malts. It is right up there with Old Guardian as one of my most favorite beers in the "Good God, how in the hell can this be over 10%abv" category. Sip, savor, enjoy, and respect the black.

sockeye101, Jun 12, 2006
Photo of mitchfor3
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2006 Vintage.

Damn. Near. Perfect.

What a beer. The 11% is at once devastatingly present, yet highly drinkable. This beer took the greatest aspects of my favorite RISs and put them into one. Part Old Rasputin, part Storm King, the list goes on, but none of the other fantastic beers in this category combine such incredible depth and complexity with such amazing drinkability. I really can't wait to see how this one tastes in a year or two.

My first perfect score, and a well deserved one.

Side note: This beer caused me to reflect on Stone's lineup and really grasp how incredible of a brewery it is. Stone just overtook the top spot in my book. RIS, Oaked Bastard, Old Guardian, Smoked Porter, IPA, Ruination, Levitation, Pale Ale. Every one of them outstanding.

mitchfor3, Jun 11, 2006
Photo of EvilKeith
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Limited Spring 2006 Edition

Poured into the glass a cold deep dark black color. Clarity is impossible to determine. A brief cascade settled into two fingers of firm dense camel colored froth. The head faded to a wispy cap. Lace was thick and inviting.

Smell was dark roasted coffee beans, sweet dark prunes, cocoa, diacetyl rich buttery toffee and a charred smokiness.

Taste was unsweetened cocoa, charred, darkly roasted coffee with an excellent balance of malts and hops.

Thick and viscious, full bodied. Heavy, but somehow creamy on the mouthfeel.

This is some tasty stuff. If you can find it try it for yourself.

EvilKeith, Jun 11, 2006
Photo of oelergud
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Limited spring 2006 release"
Pitch black body with a creamy brown head with a few small bubbles. Good retention but not too much lace.
The smell is incredible, wafting out through the room strong enough to be easily detected without putting the glass under my nose. Sweet toasted chocolate with a hint of alcohol. Prunes, raisens and maybe dried dates. Strong malts with a touch of caramel.
Taste is a mellow and silken burnt sweet chocolate roast fest. Even the aftertaste is roasted chocolate with a hint of hops coming through with some expresso bean flavors. This is quite amazing.
Mouthfeel is excellent. Full and thick with plenty of coating and leaves the feeling of a slick sensation all over.
Highly drinkable even in todays 80 degrees.


oelergud, Jun 10, 2006
Photo of BRoss242
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Recieved this beer from Px2Grafx: early 2006 release

A- Pours pitch black with a milk chocolate colored head with fades quickly leaving a nice lacy appearance.

S- Roasted malt and chocolate aroma with a heavy licorace prescence, some fruityness also shows up.

T&M-Very bitter almost like eating dark chocolate covered espesso beans. I can feel the alcohol burn as this goes down my throat,but I won't be critical of that due to it being so young. I'm sure that will be different with the next one I try in the future.

D- I wouldn't want to drink this on a daily basis, but I enjoyed it enough that I would love to have this on special occasions.

BRoss242, Jun 09, 2006
Photo of rokoch27
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can't find this spring/summer (2006) release, but did pick up the "Limited Early Summer 2005 Release" at the store. I won't say too much due to the wealth of reviews below.

One year old at opening. Pours dark and thick like black oil. Slight brown head. Smells like a mildly sweet, black forest cake. Soft hint of fruit in the background. Be prepared to taste a little bit of alcohol, but then savor the creamy, balanced elixir. Strong malt to chew on and a subtle hop on the back end. This isn't beer...it is my dinner and dessert. I've got the same advice as everyone else: buy some to keep and open in front of a warm file a few years down the road. Who needs oak aging barrels when you've got Stone?

rokoch27, Jun 09, 2006
Photo of BeerRun13
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one is a 2005 (one year old).

Pours as black as can be. A nice thick, creamy, dark tan head laces well. This beer is picture perfect.
Smells of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a slight cherry/fruit essence.
Tastes like burnt dark chocolate. A touch of coffee like bitterness. A hint of berries or cherries in the middle. A touch of spice.
Full bodied and well carbonated. There is a slightly spicy touch to the tounge.
Gret beer and very drinkable. I think I'm going to try to get my hands on some more 2005 as well a cellar some 2006.

BeerRun13, Jun 07, 2006
Photo of loren01
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from bomber a dark black color with good lacing and one finger tan head
S: Smell is not too prominent. Smell is sweet, sugary. Slight metallic smell
T: Very sweet like mollases. Slight hoppy bitter aftertaste. Slight Dove chocolate taste
M: Thick, chewy, but easy drinking
D: Thanks to GClarkage for this awesome beer. This is my first Imperial Russian Stout, I love the style.

loren01, Jun 06, 2006
Photo of Brian700
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured black with a brown head that stuck around for a while, there was some decent lacing going on.

The aroma was of roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee.

The flavor followed the nose. There was plenty of roasted malt and some chocolate flavors with a little bit of coffee presence.

The mouthfeel was full bodied with medium carbonation.

This is a pretty drinkable beer for how big it is. I highly recommend it.

Brian700, Jun 06, 2006
Photo of 3Vandoo
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very dark opaque beer with a shy creamy brown head.

Smell is, chocolate chocolate and chocooo! I thought I was drinking a chocolate stout.

Taste is very bitter, the hops bitterness hit you then followed by a burnt coffee flavors followed by a dark chocolate aftertaste. Quite carbonated, not very smooth, quite hard on the palate.

3Vandoo, Jun 05, 2006
Photo of scooter231
3.1/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Opaque and dark, some tan head, no lacing. No bubbles. Nose is coffee-esque- almost a frappuccino. Maybe coffee liquor. Nothing special. Taste is interesting. Alcohol is very present, a bit much. Coffee. An almost vodka aftertaste. Bitter, roasted. I'm not sure if I dig this or not. Tastes too young, this needs to grow up. Mouthfeel is a bit dry, somewhat sudsy. Drinkable for such a high alcohol beer, but definitely too heavy, too alcoholic to drink more than one of. Don't know if I could drink the whole bomber on my own. Eh, I wanted more from this beer.

scooter231, Jun 05, 2006
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,044 ratings.