1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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

7,287 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,287
Reviews: 2,601
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 586
Gots: 1,633 | FT: 96
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,287 | Reviews: 2,601 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Kudashov
2.2/5  rDev -49.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This brew was going to be enjoyed while watching my beloved Boston Red Sox . I got neither . The Sox game was called off and this beer was not enjoyable . When poured , the color and the crusty bubbled head was nice and very impressive . The head reminded me of the inside of a Crunchie Bar that my folks would bring back to the States from Ireland . The aroma is coffee and boozy . Burnt and overwhelmingly bitter . I have enjoyed the Storm King and Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout . The latter is one of my favs . Stone makes some very tasty brews but this was a mess . It was not a drain pour but it will not be bought again .

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

Pours black as oil with a huge foamy chocolate milk head that laces for days. Smells of roasted malts, french roast coffee, molassas, fig and slight alcohol. Tastes of dark chocolate notes, dried dark fruits, coffee notes, caramel, molassas and list goes on and on. Nice warming effect and a touch of alcohol finish. Feels full in the mouth with a perfect touch of carbonation. Smooth as silk and the alcohol is extremely hidden considering the high ABV. Crazy drinkable for such a robust stout, I could polish off another bomber or two easy...then wake up the next morning with memories of a delicious brew. A must try.

Photo of soupyman10
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got a bomber of this - impossible to find in Philly where I've been living, but back in Michigan it seems to be everywhere. This one pours a totally black, with light red-brown head that dissolves a little quickly (although that could have been the pour). Nose is lots of licorice, molasses, black current, spices, and a touch of light alcohol. Smells excellent. Somehow, the taste tops it. Coffee, chocolate, dried fruit, molasses, roasted malt, breadiness, and some light licorice. Body is full and creamy, with perfect carbonation. This is a fantastic beer, with a great flavor and body. The only slight problem is the quickly vanishing head and the somewhat mild nose. Otherwise, incredible. Cellaring would only make it better, too.

Photo of mountdew1
3.73/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip pint glass. Was a very nice completely opaque very dark brown/black. Had a gorgeous dark brown chocolately colored head. Lacings clung to the sides of the glass the whole time. Smelled like freshly baked oatmeal cookies. Not too sweet, but not to earthy either. Tasted smooth, with a very slight bitterness that reminded my of a very very dark chocolate. Had a hint of coffee hiding in there also. Felt great in the mouth. Very smooth, coated the mouth perfectly. A little bit of bitterness/burning in the throat, but not bad. Too strong to drink fast, but a great brew to sit and sip.

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

The 2007 edition with the gargoyle wearing that spiffy Russian hat.
Holy bananas, batman! I don't think I've ever picked that flavor out of a Russian Imperial stout before, but here it is! This is drinking more like a hoppy quadrupel than a RIS, and that's fine by me. If you wanna take away style points for such a thing, so be it. Still some chocolate flavor in there but there is more of a dark fruit presence than vintages past.
Not as delicious smelling as past vintages but still good stuff. I get mostly raisins out of the nose mixed with smoked and roasted scents.
Slick and sweet on the palate with a lingering bitterness just underneath the sweetness.
Always a pleasant find when on the hunt for a big, dark and hearty brew.

Photo of BrewSomerville
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee, pine needles, ethanol.

Looks: Black. Slightly smaller than average beige head. Poor head retention (down to a thin cover fast). No lace.

Taste: Chocolate, roasted malts, coffee (sweet). Sweetness upfront with flavours listed above, then hop flavours. Long hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied. Carbonation feels light.

Overall, I think it's a good RIS. I didn't get as much of that black liqorice flavour that I dislike as I have with some others.

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

For a bomber costing five dollars, this beer is phenomenal.

Not the darkest of stouts I've seen (that honor goes to speedway stout). The chocolate and coffee are in perfect harmony, with neither overpowering the other. There is a hint of vanilla, and some type of fruit. Almost feels like currants or raisins. Oddly, this is not the most appealing stout visibly (at least for me). It looks a bit thin, doesn't seem to pour with much of a head, if at all... It's the taste that wows you, not the presentation.

They are sold out here at the Irvine Bevmo, but I've laid down six or seven to carry me over for a while. A great beer, and for my money the best of the Stone offerings.

Photo of udubdawg
4.71/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber of 2007 vintage - after another 2 years, I'll bet this scores a perfect "5"

It's a bit of a waste, as this beer needs (IMO) a mimumum of 12 months of age to truly shine, but oh well - I've got more. Sadly I'm drinking this alone - a nice vertical tasting of previous vintages of this beer with friends sounds like a hell of an evening. At 10.8% ABV and 22 oz, there's no way I'm having another of these by myself. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow.

Let's get to it. Don't bother to open this beer at refrigerator temp, or you'll miss much of it. At about 55 degrees viscous glossy liquid flows slowly from the awecome silkscreened bottle into my big ol snifter. Color is deep light-sucking blackness, and I find myself a bit embarassed to have called other beers black. Three fingers of dark tan head quickly form, subside to a thin cap, and then stubbornly decides to stick around despite the ABV. Lacing is spotty over a large region of the glass. Very nice looking beer - too pretty to drink? - well, umm, no.

Aroma is even better. From experience I believe this will improve with age, but it is already very nice. Chocolate makes a big appearance, and sweet dark fruits like raisins, currant, and plums. Alcohol peeps from behind the carmelized and burnt sugars and briefly reminds me of the strength of this brew. I note less coffee than I recall from previous vintages - once again I look forward to a vertical taste test. This is also a bit less overall roasty and more fruity than expected. Somewhat redolent of a baltic porter like Sinebrychoff , or a lighter fruity imperial stout like Samuel Smith. Really complex, and a definite treat.

The taste is far from light and fruity though - this is all Stone IRS. The size of the malt bomb is no surprise, and the flavor is a bit more roasty than the aroma. The bitterness of the aggressive young hops is a bit raw but welcome in the long finish. Silky smooth mouth-coating deliciousness, with just a bit of light carbonation. I don't know that I've ever had a bottled beer I'd rate higher on mouthfeel. Chocolate makes itself known again, and liquorice and carmelized sugar. This a rich drink; downright decadent. I feel a brief pang of regret that I didn't wait until these nice flavors blend together perfectly, but the gargoyle on the bottle screams at me to shut the hell up and drink it. Who am I to argue?
If you're looking for a food pairing the obvious answer is chocolate. Nothing too sweet. Few beers of this strength are as drinkable - maybe that isn't such a good thing, but at the moment I'm not about to complain. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm out of nice things to say about this beer, but I'm not yet out of beer.

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

Poured from a 650ml bottle - 2007 vintage - into my NBB snifter. It was a solid black color even against the light. It had a small, dense dark brown head that settled into a thin collar. Just a little lacing. The aroma was mostly chocolate with coffee and alcohol in the background. Smell and taste are sweeter than most stouts or amer double stouts. The taste is very smooth and follows the aroma. Very drinkable. The mouthfeel was good but a little watery for a stout. Expected it to be creamy but it wasn't. Overall an excellent beer and glad I finally got to try it. Highly recommend. (4.5, RB-OAY, T, Y)

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

22 ounce bottle, 2007, $5.59 at Brown Jug Warehouse in Anchorage, AK.

Appearance: Pours deep black with a dense, small, medium brown head. Slight, dispersed lacing. Head disappears relatively soon after pouring, not surprising given the high ABV.

Aroma: tar, coffee, creosote.

Taste: prunes, licorice, creosote, tar, roast, all of it strong. Solid alcohol heat, and finishes chocolaty and roasty yum.

Mouth: tingly, sharp, hot alcohol with a pleasant burn that sticks around for a long time.

Overall, it's an excellent beer, and a good example of the RIS style. This bottle is definitely better than many of Stone RIS that I've had: for many years, I think it was a prime example of how extraordinarily overrated some of Stone's beers are due to the cult following the enjoy. That said, this one is worthy of solid scores and praise. It might even, one day, grow up to be as good as Yeti.

Photo of younger35
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank at a camp site on the shores of Lake Coeur D’ Alene in Northern Idaho. I took a couple tasty beers to enjoy with the scenery of about the most beautiful place on the planet. Drank out of a clear disposable Rubbermaid cup. Classy!

Appearance- Pours an oily dark brownish black that allows zero light to enter or leave. Not much head even with a very aggressive pour. What head is there is medium brown around the collar dissipating to a light brown in the center. Light, sticky lacing follows the beer down the glass adding to the enjoyment.
Smell- Lots of roasted malty goodness here. Roasted chocolate, dark French roast, black liquorices, toasted marshmallow, alcohol and lots of smoky nuttiness permeate out of the glass. All the usual smells that you’d expect from an IRS but a tad bit “sweeter”.
Taste- Sweet roasted malts give this beauty a nice light sugary sweet bite up front. Lot’s of toasty dark chocolate, toffee, liquorices, raisins and other dark fruits make this thing amazing. It’s so complex and so smooth its mind boggling. The 10.8% ABV is hardly noticeable although you get a tinge of the alcohol occasionally.
Mouthfeel- Silky smooth oiliness that is full and heavy. Tiny little bubbles lend the smallest of carbonation to the beer.
Drinkablity- Although I think Stone makes some pretty good beers (AB is pretty good), all-in-all I think they're pretty overrated. This beer is the exception. I thought it was terrific and I can imagine with a little time it would only get better. It’s tremendously smooth and balanced and a really phenomenal beer. I’m glad I waited to enjoy this on the lake!

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

2004 Vintage. Consumed in August 2007. This was the first beer I cellared.

Appearance: This one pours thick inky black with red hues and a small, fading brown head.

Smell: The aroma has almost none of the dark fruit that younger versions exhibit, but it has more chocolate and I'm a sucker for chocolate. Mocha is probably the better description since there's a bit of sweet Northern Italian espresso as well.

Taste: I am missing the fruit in the flavor profile. The oxidation brings the chocolate into baker's chocolate territory and the espresso component is very sweet. Gingerbread and anise round out the vicious roasted assault.

Mouthfeel: The body is super thick and finishes rough.

Drinkability: I think one to two years is the ideal age for these beers unless you're a big fan of oxidized flavors. It was certainly worth the experience.

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

A - Coal black, with about 1 inch of tan-brown head.

S - Alcohol, hops and chocolate. Rasins, estery fruit, dates and a bit of mint.

T - Spicy, hoppy. Chocolate/ espresso and rasins/ dates. A bit of buttery, nutty maltiness and a long hoppy, spicy finish.

M - Very thick and oily with higher carbonation than I would have expected.

D - I can't find anything to complain about in this one. The flavor and aroma are excellent and the chocolate notes are particularly delicious. They have done a great job of rideing the line between a vary flavorfull beer and an excessive, opressive one.

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

this beer pisses me off. well not the beer. that fact that is states that it is for 2006 release. this should have been gobbled up long ago.

with that being said someone else aged it for me...this pours like black black coffee into my glass. lil to no head. cant see any carbonation cuz it is sooo dark. you can taste the carbonation though cuz it dances off the palate. wonderfull rich roasted malt smell. wonderfull deeep rich roasted malt chocolate coffee flava. very nice.

this is a very very full bodied stout but one that is very very drinkable. top three for its style!!

stone hits yet another homer on this one.

suckem up and movem out!!!

giblet

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

Poured into a tulip glass out of a bomber, slightly cool, but by no means cold.
First off, this beer is DARK. Nice coffee head that receeds to lace as you drink.
At first sniff, I get burnt malts and caramel. As it breaths, notes of licorice and dirt... which isn't too bad. A very earthy brew.
The first sip seems to be a bit on the sweet side, almost unpleasant, but there is also a a bite on the tongue that cuts it instantly. You can taste a very roasted character to brew. Not a lot of alcohol tasted, but this being an RIS, it's there. Goes down fairly smooth with little or no aftertaste.
Overall, this is a very good brew. Very smooth, reminds me of my favorite oatmeal stout, but just a bit of a bite. This would be paired great with a hearty stew... or just on it's own. Another great one from Stone.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into my Mad Elf tulip glass from a 22oz brown bomber with crimped cap.

Thick mocha head very creamy with good retention.
Opaque,black with a slight brownnish hue leaves some nice lace curtians down the glass.

Sweet burnt carmell nose, very roast and fruity. Dark fruity aromas mostly dates,figs,raisins and some licorace with a touch of booze.

Very roasty,burnt bittersweet carmell with lots of malty sweetness. Dark fruityness raisins,dates. Dark chocolate always seems to be lingering around. Syrupy with a very nice balance and hint of boozyness not as much as you would expect for the alcohol content of the beer. Finishes with a very sharp clean dry chocolatey finish. The chocolate lingers on the palate with a residual sweetness. A suprizingly smooth taste,more so than i would suspect from a RIS.

Thick and full mouthfeel,some creamyness and a good bit of cloying. Very enjoyable beer. Very drinkable RIS had no problem putting away a bomber,almost can't belive how easily it went down.
Must try beer for a stout lover.Reminds me a lot of a barleywine.

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

A 22 oz bomber marked as "limited spring 2007 release."

Pours black and opaque with a medium head with good retention. Aroma is offers nice complexity, with chocolate, licorice, black currant, and coffee notes dominate. The complexity continues into the flavor and builds as the beer warms- definitely do not drink this one cold. The major notes in the aroma carry into flavor - chocolate, toffee, coffee, and black licorice. The alcohol is there but hides nicely and deceptively behind the rich malt and light roast character.

An very nice RIS, thoroughly enjoyed on a crisp summer evening, recommend.

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

22 oz. bomber, 2007 edition

A: Dark black, with a thick tan head, excellent lacing, a beautiful looking stout.

S: Dark chocolate, espresso notes, dark fruit, a bit of spiciness like anise and nutmeg are there as well.

T: Definitely dark chocolate, more so than other RIS's and a fair bit of coffee, dark fruit, roasted malts, the alcohol makes its presence known with a whiskey type burn, not as big, but definitely enough to show you that it is there. (3.5 fresh, 4.5 aged 2+ years).

M: Big, robust, but definitely smooth, the alcohol just adds to the character of an already big beer, very well done.

D: A delicious big stout, not something that you'd wan't to drink everyday, but a great occasional treat, best when aged for 2 years.

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

Pour was thick and black. Tan head rising up and falling within a couple minutes. Smell was of dark, sweet chocolate. Some roasted coffee and dark fruit also present. Not a BIG roasted malt in the nose, but it was there. Taste lacked the depth I had hoped for. I still picked up some dark fruits here, fairly sweet though not so much as the nose suggested. The coffee and chocolate also come through, maybe even a hint of vanilla in there. Warming alcohol also noticeable, in both taste and mouthfeel. Mouthfeel seemed a tad light. Somewhat syrupy thick but not as much as many others. I'd put it on the medium bodied side when all is said and done. I drank the bomber and don't think much more would have been possible. Nothing that I dislike greatly about this one, just thought there might be a little more to it considering its ranking. I'm sure a year or so would have made this great, hopefully I'll be patient enough with the next bottle. For now, I prefer Expedition.

Thanks goes to JohnGalt1 for the extra!

Photo of willjschmidt
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber (2007 release) into my Stone IRS glass.

A: Pours ink black with a decent tan head. The head recedes quickly leaving no head throughout.

S: An outstanding aroma on this brew. Roasted coffee and quite a bit of sweetness shine through in the nose. Surprisingly, the alcohol is not very detectable.

T: A wonderfully complex and flavorful RIS, my favorite one yet. It starts out with some roasted coffee and other malt flavors. The interesting part is that it then transitions into a sweetness that I really enjoyed. Currants, liquorice, toffee, and other dark sweets come into play here. The next thing to hit the palette is some bitter chocolate and espresso coming from the hops. This lingers into the aftertaste as well a lot of warming alcohol.

M: Full bodied with very little carbonation.

D: Certainly not the most drinkable of beers due to the whopping 10.8%. It's definitely a sipper and it's not the smoothest of RIS's. The plus is that there are a ton of complex flavors in this brew. I've got a couple aging in the cellar. It will be interesting to see how it smooths out over time. All in all, a top notch RIS, highly recommended.

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

Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a deep brown, nearly black, with a nice light brown head.

S- Smells of coffee and chocolate, some hint of hops.

T- Very chocolaty, alcohol warming, sweet, but finishes reasonably dry.

M- Full bodied, small bubbles, well carbonated.

D- If it weren't so powerful, I would drink this beer everyday.

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

Wow, this is a massive beer. Absolutely jet black, frothy head with a tan hue. The flavor is like a blend between milk & dark chocolate, fairly bitter, but appropriately so. The smoked malt flavor isn't quite as strong as usual, but it's blended well. Obviously, this is a gigantic beer made for sipping. Best enjoyed that way.

Overall, this is an amazing beer. Well balanced between sweet and bitterness.

Photo of vtfan77
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Black as night with a nice tan head. This is pretty much exactly as a stout should look, only the head goes down a little quickly.

S- Tons of roasted malt; some rich caramel and a touch of alcohol.

T- In a word, decadent (I'm not even sure what that means, but it seems to fit here). Incredibly rich with an amazing roasted malt character. Dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and alcohol are all players in this assault on the palate. Nice hop bitterness on the finish. Amazing.

M- The bottle compares it to Siberian crude. I'd have to disagree; I doubt Siberian crude is carbonated. Other than that, though, I guess it's a pretty apt description.

D- Obviously a sipping beer, although when compared to others within the style, it's easily a notch above. It went down much faster than I expected.

Amazing. This is easily the best stout I've had, and it's not even close. I've admittedly been hesitant to try too many stouts as the style has never been my favorite, but this beer just changed all that. I will now be seeking out all of the best stouts available to me to see how they stack up to this magnificent creation. Needless to say I highly recommend this beer.

Photo of CharlieMopps
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Produced a half-inch of brown head atop a pitch-black liquid that resembled a refined oil.

S: Coffee and dark fruit come to mind first, with a decent roasted malt scent for a base. Smells a little spicy as well.

T: Damn. Roasted malt flavor all over the place, somewhat smokey, with assertive chocolate and coffee tones. For such a high abv, the alcohol blends in quite well due to the massive malt attack. My palate was lovin' every minute of it.

M: An appropriate level of carbonation for the style, heavy body, but at the same time, sort of light in its own regard. Not as heavy as I expected, because the mouthfeel is thick yet silky.

D: This stuff is amazing. I like to turn to RIS's sometimes after dealing with IIPAs or something of that nature for a while, gives me that extreme flavor in the other direction. That way, I can let my palate be malted and assaulted.

Photo of boelker62
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Version - Yeah, I know, it needs some months behind it, but I had to check out the product before I cellar the beasts, check my review on the '04 I had recently, that's what I am hoping to approach.

A - motor oil still, yep. Got that. Mostly diminishing heavily brown head. Did leave some lacing on the way down.

S - a heavy onslaught of toasted grains and a plethora of coffee, chicory and a touch of chocolate. A heavy yeast aroma of doughy goodness.

T - falls a bit short in the fresh version of this, comparitively, but still impressive. Where this brew really shines is the complexity and depth of tastes that remain over the duration of the palate. While the initial nose meets the initial taste as sweet and thick, every taste and aroma previously described, waits in line on your palate to introduce themselves seperately. Beautiful.

M - oily, yep. Can't get more descriptive than that, but I will add that the alcohol is still noticeable in the fresh version as well, but comes out more with age.

D - just one, call me a wimp. I could take more, but it deserves a "limited engagement" status.

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