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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.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

6,904 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,904
Reviews: 2,582
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 514
Gots: 1,501 | FT: 83
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: 6,904 | Reviews: 2,582 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Release '11: (reviewed 05/31/11)

An insanely masculine stout with ultimate creamy maltiness, aggressive roast, and a lush cocoa driven, coffee-centric flavor that completely defies what stouts should be.

Black as coal and with a voluptuous pour that exudes weight, creaminess, and viscocity- this inky black beer builds a thick top coat of foam adorns a medium tan color, carries a heafty retention and moderate lace. All this manifests in a very dessert-like appearance.

Malty, malty, malty rich aromas of slightly burnt toffee, nutty coffees, bittersweet cocoa, all come together in a way that reminds me of Whoppers malted-milk candies and chocolate covered espresso beans.

Flavors are all the same, except the malty sweet flavors erupt first, then with the quick rebuttal of coffee, cocoa, nutty flavors that demand attention at mid palate. All that coffee, chocolate, and nutty taste rounds out wonderfully with a bitter-sweet but cherry alcohol flavored finish that's reminescent of tirimasu and espresso bitterness.

Very lush and creamy textured, the early feel is robust and full. The beer makes a quick but even transition to a hearty malt mid palate, just before the bittering and drying finish. Though the beer never achieves full dryness or refreshment (It's not supposed to), rather holds onto a savory bitter chocolate semi-dry finish that lingers well into the next sip, making it a perfect compliment to a dessert or as a dessert itself.

Stone's Imperial Russian Stout is always at the epidome of what the style represents. With ultimate maltiness and supportive roast and complexities, it's amazing how effortless the beer seems at it's rudimentary levels, but how complex and succulent it becomes the more you delve into it's individual and unique flavors.

BEERchitect, Jul 01, 2005
Photo of beersarang
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%

2004 edition:
Pours a black black black with a dark tan head. Did I mention this beer is black? Head retains pretty well and I can tell just by looking at it that this beer is THICK.

Fruity alcoholic roasty aromas rise out of this beer, coffee chocolate etc. Pure evil.

At first a strong fruity malt base hits, then you get punched in the face with hops and alcohol. The bitterness is indeed pronounced, and beyond that, the alcohol is noticable. The roast coffee/chocolate character is quite appealing. Lots of raisin and a touch of charcoal too. Finishes sweet and amazing. Aftertaste reminds you for the next two minutes. Damn.

Thick, pretty heavy bodied light carbonation, right on par for the style, I would like to say.

I would love to have this beer again, one of the best Imperial stouts, in my opinion.

beersarang, Jun 19, 2005
Photo of sulldaddy
4/5  rDev -7.8%

I am sampling a bottle from 2003 at room temp in a tulip/snifter. The bottle has been cellared adequately.
The beer pours pitch black with a 3 cm fluffy tan head foaming up easily. Leaves tight latticework as it slowly fades.
Aroma is deep rich chocolate and brown sugar, mising with some ripe plums and raisins. Deep sniffs detect just a hint of alcohol.
The first sip reveals a creamy silky body that caresses my palate. This mixes with a very fine carbonation that tingles gently across my tongue. Whoa! A good bit of warming from throat to belly after the swallow. Didnt get that on the nose!
Flavor is very malty! I get chocolate and some dark ripe fruit with a bit of espresso bean bitterness. The flavor gives in to the heavy warming effect on the finish. Very hot and it is difficult to focus on other aspects of the beer.
The beer is thick and heavy and this combined with the hot finish make it a big time sipper IMO.

Overall I find this beer to be good, but wonder if I were drinking cold would only the alcohol come through? Perhaps I will need to try a fresh bottle next time I see one I will buy for sure.
Tough to surmise, but would the alcohol be hidden better if fresh?
Perhaps I should also try it again when it isnt so stinkin hot outside!
Go try it for yourself!

sulldaddy, Jun 15, 2005
Photo of Litterbean
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%

I pop open the cap and watch as wisps of steam furtively escape the chilly interior, like moaning spirits reaching towards the sky. Pouring forth from this dark bottle comes a fluid so deep, thick, and syrupy that pancakes are suddenly my deepest desire. The rocky, off-white head taunts me. I lift my glass to my nose, and am overtaken by a sweet caramel aroma, with hints of licorice, and sweet caramel. Visions of hop flowers enter my brain as I realize that the earthy character of this brew is more than palpable. The taste, where to begin? Hoppiness to the extreme, but a deep, burnt, chocolatey undertone hits me where it hurts the most: my palate. Undaunted, I realize that the complexities of this beer are too much to handle. I find many hints and flavors, all intermingling and forming a cacophony of sinful flavor in this hearty brew. Sip upon sip reveals nuances that had previously remained hidden. The balance between the hops and malts are striking, but just because there is balance does not mean that neither is too extreme. Both are in your face, both hit you like a ton of bricks, and both can decimate the palate if one does not respect this mighty beer. Smoothly it finishes, and is surprisingly easy to drink. And just as easily as it was poured, it finishes, and my liver has a long night ahead of it.

Litterbean, Jun 07, 2005
Photo of neonbrown82
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%

Every time some Stone manages to find it's way into my belly here in Stone-deprived Iowa, it seems to impress me more and more. Thanks to fellow BA mentor for sharing this exceptional brew.

My review for appearance is no different than my previous take on this brew. It pours to a dark sludgy black with a little brown head. Just like siberian crude. Also giving a bonus .5 point to the appearance/presentation for the fact that the Stone bombers are so enjoyable to read.

The smell wasn't quite as powerful as I remembered it to be. Caught aromas of coffee, chocolate, black liquorice (anise), and a subtle but undetermined hop.

The taste was as described by the nose, but much more intense. The chocolate malt flavor was blended very well with the coffee. There wasn't much of a hoppiness or roastiness detected, but rather it seemed to be quite sweet. This beer is responsible for my current craving for the Imperial Stout style.

The mouthfeel is full and viscous. Once again, has a very oil like quality, not that I've ever actually ingested crude oil for a true comparison. After about a year of aging, the ethanol flavor seems to have become more mild along with the bitterness. I think the year has done this brew well.

Drinkability is quite high, but I couldn't rate it at perfect due to the fact that 1 22 oz is not enough, but 2 seems to be almost too much at times. I think this is my favorite brew at the moment, but unfortunately it is not distributed here.

neonbrown82, Jun 06, 2005
Photo of gimmehead
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%

Jet black with a very thin and short-lived milk chocolate head. Bitter roasted malt aroma, sweet caramel and milk chocolate; slighlty smoky and acrid. Some very subtle citric hops, a hint of coffee and a little alcohol. Almost sugary sweet like a milk stout. Hugely complex and intrigueing. Tastes of roast bitterness followed by that sugary sweetness that is evident in the nose. I absolutely love it. Sort of marshmallowy. Some acrid bitterness in the finish, along with some resinous hops. Very warming and alcoholic. This beer is a mouthfull, creamy and very thick. Mouthcoating is the word. Dangerously drinkable, this beer should have a warning lable.

gimmehead, Jun 05, 2005
Photo of mentor
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%

Bomber obtained from Liquor Mart (Boulder) in 2004 and consumed in June 2005. Pours a dandy brown two-finger head over a pitch black liquid. Smells of roast, chocolate, molasses, and alcohol. Tastes divine. Wow this is incredible. Starts sweet smooth molasses chocolatey before Ghengis Khan drives 1,000 screaming roasted barley grains through my mouth and down my throat. A detectable alcohol lays beneath these flavors and becomes more prevalent in the aftertaste. Super thick creamy mouthfeel and mild carbonation. Further tastes reveal a great depth in the molasses flavor. Wet sweet to start with some fruits, but they are hard to identify before the roast appears. Plums or prunes and some licorice, too. The roast is dry and contrast with the malt in a nice power struggle. In the end, roast dry does win out, but the malt sweet hasn't completely given up the ghost. It's for this reason that I never became tired of this beer. I can't tell if I'm attributing some hop bitter to the roast character or not. If there are any hops here, they have settled. This is one fabulous beer. Many desirable flavors coming and going in an easy and well-blended flow.

mentor, Jun 04, 2005
Photo of BeerManDan
4.73/5  rDev +9%

Don't have to talk to much about this stout, it's just about the most perfect Russian Stout that has come to my lips and palate.

This has to be a brew above it self. I've been buying at least one case a year for the last four years and will continue to buy more.
After two years in the case, it taste's even better than when I tasted it before buying.

Even in 2013, this is my favorite Imperial Stout!!! That is eight years now.

BeerManDan, May 24, 2005
Photo of pootz
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%

spring 2003 edition. Bottled, bomber. Poured a dense black viscous ale into the pint glass with a rich chocolate cap that settles to a lacing ring. Thick prune, fig and sweet capuccino tones to the nose. Rich silky body permeated with the standard Impy tastes...deep chewy dried fruit tastes, cocoa/coffee tones. Light hop presense ( many be a result of the aging). Finish give the licorice impression that the alcohol turns to a light salty taste. A good standard Imperial but certainly over rated as there are many equally good, or better, Imp stouts about.

pootz, May 05, 2005
Photo of futaboots
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%

Damn, when I pop the cap off this bottle, I'm reading the words , "NOTHING BUT BARLEY, HOPS, WATER & YEAST." I'm still thinking about that, while I'm pouring the beer out, I'm also thinking, damn, that is some DARK beer, holding this up against a light, NOTHING gets through. Kind of a wimpy head I'm thinking, and it's just this thin layer of thick brown foam. The first sip of this beer is like getting punched in the face. Just a goddamn onslaught of flavors. The usual stout flavors are there, like chocolate, roasted grains, sweet maltiness, enough hops to notice, a slightly dry puckering feeling, and all this shit is turned up to eleven.

At first, it's nice and cold, tastes like dark chocolate mixed with cold cofee and a few tablespoons of sugar. But see, it's deceptive, the flavors are so strong that they soon over power you, and while your tastebuds are being pummeled into submission, all you can do is sit there and stare into space for a couple minutes, until you realize, "I should really take another sip now." The beer warms up, and and I can start to taste the alcohol, it burns slightly, but not in a bad way, it actually helps me snap out of the trance. The beer tastes much sweeter now, and the alcohol is making my whole chest feel warm (which is good, cuz I had to ride home tonight from work on my motorcycle while it was raining). I'm giving this one almost all 5's, to me it is everything a beer should be, appealing to my basic tastes, while firing off some synapes in my brain.

I just couldn't drink this every day, maybe not even once a month, I definitely cannot drink another beer tonight.

futaboots, May 01, 2005
Photo of Truh
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%

The masses gave me the thumbs down, so off with his head with this one on 5/12/2004. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

No head to speak of, just a light rim around the circumference of the glass. Mocha/java in appearance; nice, inky black. Impressive whisky and molasses bouquet, quite sweet, like an understated WWS. Deep flavor profile topped by some burnt umber notes, hickory, Chinese five-spice heat, black pepper, orange rind, and a dash of soy. Given the high alcohol, this was a surprisingly smooth libation. Time to store one away for a while.

Truh, Apr 15, 2005
Photo of canucklehead
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%

Thick and ebony in colour, this is an imposing beer. The smell was old chocolate and vinous notes swirling around the back. The taste was unexpected as instead of big hops and malts I got a fantastic melange of aged chocolate, wine, hops and fruit. The last time I had a beer this well constructed it was a Westy 8. I love Rogue and North Coast's take on this style but I must say that Stone have created something quite sublime and full of the brewers soul.

canucklehead, Apr 12, 2005
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%

Appearance - opaque black, dark mocha head that dissipates to a moderate crown.

Aroma - dark smoky espresso with mild soy sauce, intense and thick.

Taste - sweet up front, then progresses smoothly into coffee flavors, delicious and roasty. 10.8% abv comes through but is masked extremely well. Ends with a mild alcohol warmth, chocolate and espresso.

Mouthfeel - smooth, rich, and moderately carbonated.

Drinkability - perhaps the most drinkable 10%+ beer I've ever had.

brewdlyhooked13, Apr 05, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%

The beer poured into the glass black, midnight black, the head was very low, dark brown, but was persistent and laced the glass.

The aroma was strong expresso coffee, dark chocolate and fruitiness blended with some higher alcohols. The fruits were dark and that of raisins and prunes.

The flavor was dark chocolate with raisins and prunes and other fruits. The malt had a sweetness that was comanded by the acidity of the dark grains. The expresso flavor tamed the sweetness into submission and then held it on the ground till it was made to cry Uncle. The bitterness component in the flavor was slightly grassy and understated again held in place by chocolate and coffee.

The finish was dry with a lasting coffee and chocolate mixed with dark fruits long into the aftertaste. The body was full, every bit of it. Alcohol made it's presence known in the aroma, but really only shined in the warming sensation that occured after consumption.

22 ounce bottle. 2004 early summer release. The head must have been impaired by the alcohol content of the beer. The alcohol also lowers the drinkability slightly.

GCBrewingCo, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of BeerFink
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%

2004 release, served from a 22oz bomber...

This seemingly demonic brew blackens my snifter as a sticky brown head arises like a phoenix. As I consume this stout, sticky lace accumulates on the sides of the glass. No light is visible anywhere in this blackness. Huge aromas eminate from the glass - dark fruit (black currants) is up front, along with lots of black coffee and some bitter chocolate. Alcohol is also apparent in the nose. Taste is quite complex. Roasted barley and black patent flavors are quick to attack the palate. The dry malt blitzkrieg is followed by sweet fruits. I'm thinking about raisins, black currants, and prunes as this stout permeates my digestive system. Coffee and and a little chocolate are also apparent, lingering til the bitter end. The faintest hint of hops are apparent, but are not long in the world of this stout. Alcohol is not hidden at all - it takes control of the flavor a little too quickly, but is not totally overpowering. There is a classic roasted finish, enhanced by the warming alcohol. The sweet fruit flavor balances the roast taste like few others. The 10.8% abv warms the body quite like a wine. Good carbonation balances the heavy mouthfeel. Although not the stickiest of imperials, you still feel like you need a toothbrush to be rid of this brew. Chalk up another heavy hitting ass kicking brew from Stone.

I couldn't think of a better way to sum up this stout than an excerpt from the bottle: "It almost seems evil."

BeerFink, Mar 21, 2005
Photo of Hefe
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%

22 oz. bomber with the Stone Gargoyle doing his job impressively. "Komplicated Beer for Komplicated Times, Komrad" it says at the bottom. Indeed. One hell of a Komplicated brew. Late spring 2003 release served with decadent capitalist chocolate dessert on 3/19/05.

Pours a dark chocolte brown, with light visible at the edges, and a surpisingly thick chocolate head that quickly dissapates to sticky lacing at the rim of the glass. Before I even get my nose anywhere near the glass, it hits me. Molasses, dark roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, dried fruits. The flavours are of a chord with the aromas, the finish is unexpectedly dry given the immense richness and a seeming initial sweetness. Carbonation is very fine, and the mouthfeel would be creamy if not for a viscous richness. Despite the size of this brew it never becomes cloying or overwhelming.

Bravo!

Hefe, Mar 21, 2005
Photo of bensiff
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%

This dark beauty poors dark and thick consistent with the style. It has a slight tan head with nice lacing.

Its aroma is filled with alcohol, dark chocolate, and coffee notes. Mouthfeel is full as this high gravity drink delivers a powerful yet surprisingly smooth punch given its high ABV. Taste is outstanding and by far the best I have encountered in this style.

Overall this rates highly with exceptional drinkability. Due to its heavy hitting nature resulting in a slow sipping intake, I suggest a nice cigar accompany this one to bring out the best in both. Take the two in on the back porch with a friend and a debate of philosophy, theology, and politics and you have a glorious night...just remember that drinking this Russian doesn't mean that you aren't a good red blooded American even if commy's come up in the debate.

bensiff, Mar 08, 2005
Photo of guinnessman
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Pours with a nice thick soapy brown head. It's dark as night and beautiful. Smells very sweet with little alcohol smell. Has a very thick, very smooth mouthfeel, with a rich chocolate taste. You would never know that this one is 9.7%. Very drinkable!!!

guinnessman, Mar 06, 2005
Photo of Gagnonsux
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%

Purchased this while on vacation in Memphis. The color is black, head is medium brown and creamy. Head is very good considering the 10.8% ABV. The aroma is of rich, dark chocolate with slight whiffs of alcohol and roasted coffee. The taste is quite simply amazing. Rich and complex dark chocolate flavor is ruling my world here. Alcohol flavor is noted in the finish. A light roasted taste rounds this out. Another great thing about this beer is that considering the extremely full flavor and high alcohol content, Stone Imperial Russian Stout is amazingly drinkable. This is a beer that every fan needs to get their hands on. I haven't finished my bomber yet and I'm already mad that I can't get more locally. Note to Stone Brewing: Please, please, please bring your full product line to Texas.

Gagnonsux, Feb 22, 2005
Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Appearance: Opaque, with a small tan head, which retains very well, with excellent broken lacing.

Aroma: Coffee, bitter chocolate, dark fruit, and strong alcohol notes utterly dominate the aroma.

Taste: Opens with sweet alcohol, dark malt, there is a vinous note that carries throughout; dark fruits are present throughout most of the taste. Finishes with a strong bitter note of cocoa and coffee.

Mouth feel: Smooth and rich body, almost syrupy.

Drinkability/notes: Superb and very drinkable, an excellent cold weather beer.

Pegasus, Feb 15, 2005
Photo of dgallina
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%

Early summer 2004 vintage, sampled February 2005.

Pours a viscous black with no highlights. One finger of tan head that quickly diminishes, leaving little film or lacing. Smells of dark roasted chocolate malt and dark fruits (black-currant, plums, raisins) on a vinous, oily and spicy alcohol base. Flavor starts with sweet fruits, is enlivened with stabs of alcohol spiciness, tons of bitter chocolate and slight roasted coffee malt. The flavors intermingle all the way to the finish, which features bitter roasted coffee and chocolate and a very strong alcohol bite and warming. Quite viscous in the mouth, with nearly imperceptible carbonation and a thick, oily feel.

A gigantic imperial stout. There's no mistaking the alcohol in this beast, but it's well-balanced and nicely warming on a long and cold winter night.

dgallina, Feb 13, 2005
Photo of Wonka
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%

22 oz. bomber
10.8% Alc. Vol.
2004 release
Brickskeller in D.C.

Appearance: flat black beer; smooth pillowy tan head; lace is ample

Smell: roasted malts, coffee, dark fruits, light molasses, tinge of alcohol

Taste: major roasted malts; a bit bitter in close; plum, date, molasses & chocolate with a touch of caramel to add to smoothness and a drop of alcohol to remind one of the power below; aftertaste is a touch bitter with a great coat of chocolate, coffee, molasses and plum

Mouthfeel: beautifully full and creamy to blanket the mouth; massive network of flavors; very light syrup nature

Drinkability: incredibly smooth monster of a beer; no need to rush

Ladies and gentlemen, we have the undisputed champion of my taste buds. Its an eloquent sipper. Sit back and enjoy.

Wonka, Feb 13, 2005
Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%

Appearance: Pitch black color with a nice tan head; leaves some lacing in a dancing pattern

Smell: Roasted grains, dark chocolate, dark fruits (figs and dates), anise, coffee and alcohol

Taste: Rich and malty with a chocolate presence right off the bat, followed by a fruity bitterness; after the swallow, the coffee and dark dried fruit flavors (the label claims black currants and I will go with that as well as the figs and dates)emerge; a bit of hops return on the finish and provide a long lasting bitterness along with a residual touch of licorice

Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy and viscous; moderate carbonation; warms on the gullet for a long time after the swallow

Drinkability: A wonderfully rich and powerful stout but it's one and done

brentk56, Feb 07, 2005
Photo of jdhilt
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%

Pours a one-finger brown head that quickly fades leaving traces of lace. Black opaque color. Nice, beefy full bodied. Sweet roasty coffee/chocolate nose. Starts sweet, finishes with some alcohol overtones and there is a slight burnt chocolate aftertaste. $6 for a 22oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

jdhilt, Feb 06, 2005
Photo of carln26
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Deep brown to black color with a nice thick brown head. The head recedes to a nice sheet of lace on the glass as I write this. The aroma is heavy with chocolate and roasted malt notes. There is just a mild hint of citrus hops on the finish. More chocolate notes up front in the flavor. The roasted malt comes across too along with a bigger, brighter hop flavor than I expected. There are layers of flavor in this beer, and the layers come together nicely in the finish. Rich, velvety smooth mouth feel and a high drinkability. One of the best of this style I’ve had the pleasure to try.

carln26, Feb 03, 2005
Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 6,904 ratings.