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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,451 Ratings

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Ratings: 7,451
Reviews: 2,627
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 653
Gots: 1,757 | FT: 100
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,451 | Reviews: 2,627
Photo of LeftyBWS
3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of andrewm190
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of cordelia3310
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of RiekerStarBrew
3.62/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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

(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.

Photo of DaggerEyes
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

Photo of MarkSCCOT
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of ByTor2112
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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!

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

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.

Photo of jackhammer54
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

Photo of Boppar
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of redneckchugger
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to pimpp for this bottle
Poured from a bomber into a tulip
pours back as coal, with a rock, lingering head a full inch and a half thick, lacing rings all the way down.
Smell, is hoppy, maltly, sweet, sour, bitter, god its all over the place, i'm getting figs, alcohol, brown sugar, dark coffee bitter chocolate, and ripe fruits
Taste is a kick in the taste buds, huge malt presence, hoppy bitterness, coffee, chocolate, figs, booze, raisens, plums, dark woodsy tastes that remind me of fresh cut firewood, and dark bread
Mouthfeel is thick beyond thick, heavy, huge alcohol burn but in a good way, this beer does not taste like a 10 % beer ,

Easily the best stout of any variety i have ever had, even more than old rasputin which i thought was damn near flawless. Its not terribly drinkable given the heavy mouthfeel and dangerous abv, but stone out did themselves here. I must have more of this.

Photo of Atlas1
3.99/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I find most Russian imperial stouts to be a bit daunting, and the Stone version is no exception. Still, I love them, and find myself continuously drawn to them.

I poured this one from the bomber into a little Belgian snifter. An appropriate glass for something this complex, I assured myself. It appears black as night, with no colors shining through when held up to the light, except a few light shades of orange at the top near the dirty head. And speaking of head, there isn't much of one. Nothing like the BA photo at least. This one thinned out quickly and only left a few big bubbles along the rim. The nose, however, is big, as expected. Lots of dark fruit (plum, cherry, fig), followed by baker's chocolate, brewer's yeast, molasses, and faint hints of vanilla and coffee bean. A beautiful aroma. And the taste follows suit in a similar order, but comes out a bit sweeter than I anticipated. There's a nice lingering bitterness in the end which I wish was a bit more pronounced because it's so damn sweet all around. Still, it's a tasty brew. Mouthfeel is on the thin-side, if you ask me, but does fill out as the beer warms.

Stone has made a fine Russian imperial stout here, no bones about it. But it's not my favorite out there, nor should it be considered the best on the market. It's nice and complex, as it should be, but it's sweeter than some and a bit less complex than others. Definitely worth a try, though, and it'll keep you warm in the wintertime. Try it with a hearty stew, or a dense chocolate/raspberry dessert.

Photo of hero27
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber. Early Summer 2005 Release.
*Cracked open this bottle after 2+ years in the cellar to see how it held up.

What's better than drinking Stone RIS on Halloween night? ..well...probably a lot of things, but I didn't have too many more options.

Still as black as the day it was conceived.
Dark fruits, chocolate, burnt malts, and vanilla flavors envelop the brew. Damn, I forgot how good this beer was...
The one aspect in which I feel this beer has really improved over time is it's drinkability...so smooth, and the flavors have blended together without losing their initial redeeming qualities when consumed fresh. absolutely superb.

If this bottle is any indication, I'm positive Stone RIS can hold it's own for at least 5 years of downtime before drinking...possibly a lot longer.

Photo of mrasskicktastic
1.9/5  rDev -56.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Spring 2007 release

A - Black brew with an excellent cascade. A bit of lacing is left on the sides.

S - Molasses, licorice and a hint of fresh pitch. Burnt pith and alcohol. As the beer warms, only slightly. A pretty unpleasant smell.

T - Molasses, soy sauce, sour, licorice, black pepper, alcohol. Aftertaste is a bitter scorched malt and some sourness.

M - Thick, syrupy, smooth, a bit refreshing.

D - This beer is not very good at all. I neither hate nor love Stone beers, and I neither hate nor love extreme beers - but, objectively, this is just bad. A little short of drain pour. Truthfully, I don't think age will make a worthwhile difference in this one. I'll let it sit for a few years I think and then crack it open. I am really sad that I bought two when I saw it. Very few times that I say this, but "at least it is strong." Barring the one I bought synchronously (which I might just trade), I won't have this again.

Photo of seaoflament
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle is from the Spring 2007 release, so it has about 4 months rest.

A very good looking RIS with some active bubbles and decent amount of hot chocolate colored head.

Big roasted aroma with some chocolate malts, coffee, toffee, hints of cherries, and cocoa.

Taste is very much in line with the aroma but with a little more cocoa in the lead. Great roasted flavor that’s complimented with the coffee and slight bitterness in the finish. Still a bit of a hop bite in this one. The alcohol is well hidden but not completely absent from the beer and works in the manner of a pleasant warm feeling as it goes down and sits in the stomach without a burning sensation. The finish is semi-dry with an aftertaste of coffee and chocolate malts.

This is a RIS that would age really well and I’m putting aside a few to test it.

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

Spring 2007 edition

A: Pitch black and a nice dark head. Some lacing, good head retention.

S: Dark and rich, plenty of chocolate and coffee.

T: Super flavor with again the chocolate and coffee. Fairly sweet, also a strong roasted taste, very minimal hopping.

MF: Uber-thick with a long-lasting aftertaste. Extremely smooth and heavy. Strong warming but the alcohol is masked well.

D: A very good and easy to drink beer. May be too flavorful for some. It would be great to drink all day, but I don't think I could drink more than a bottle at a time. Very filling, a very good beer.

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

A - Black, with a coffee head. Not opaque, but close. Lacing is good.

S - Deep strong notes of chocolate, coffee tobacco and casked whiskey.

T - BAM. Invades your mouth with toasted malt and aggressive hop finish to inexplicably neutralize the process. Nice deal.

M - Coating and demanding - complex, perfectly carbonated and balanced.

D - If I only could, this would be an all day beverage :)

Photo of jakon
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle purchased in April of 2007. Case is dated 2-14-7.

Pours pitch black with a large tan colored head that creeps up on you. Be careful not to overflow the glass. The foam recedes at a steady pace leaving behind an impressive wash of sticky lacing. The alcohol in the aroma has faded a bit since spring. The first thing that hits the nose is the roasted malt character, a bit of bakers chocolate, a hint of coffee and a distant hop presence. The taste has mellowed a bit as the flavors have melded together a bit more. The alcohol isn't nearly as perceptible as it was 5 or 6 months ago. There is a robust bitterness that seems to be originating from numerous sources. Baker's chocolate, hops and coffee. There are dark fruit characteristics and a background sweetness that help to balance everything out. The mouthfeel is thick, smooth and somewhat oily with the perfect amount of bite. I really like this beer, but have been spoiled by a surplus of Speedways lately. This isn't quite on the same level, imo, but it's still one of my favorite stouts. I've got 10 more, and look forward to checking in on them a few times each year. It's really not even hitting its stride at this point. Every stout lover should pick up a case of this each year and enjoy the ride.

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

07 bottle six months later...

Pours a deep black color, with a nice big off white head on top.

Aromas have mellowed. Some coffee, dark bakers chocolate, and a little bit of pine like hops.

Flavors are mellow and creamy up front. Some sweet chocolate flavors and coffee flavors. While the finish is still bitter, hoppy, and with a lingering alcohol bite. This beer still has a really nice kick to it.

Mouthfeel is nice. Carbonation is nice, feels thick, and prickly in the mouth.

Drinkability is very good. A very nice Russian Imperial Stout, that seems a bit different than others in the style... but that's a good thing.

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

poured out of a bomber into a Tulip..

...Im not going to waste your time telling you about the smell, taste and body...just know I put 5s across the board. Out of all the amazing high profile stouts like Darklord and Bourbon County Stout, this trumps them all, for sake of drinkability and mouthfeel. Close your eyes, take a sip, think Caramel, coffe, chocolate, feel the alcohol warmth, and remember that moment, for you have reached the pinnacle of beer drinking, and it is all downhill from here. Of course, this is all subject to your personal taste, but for the love that is everything holy and unholy, FIND THIS BEER! Thanks again Stone, you never let me down.

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

2007 vintage. 22 oz bomber. I couldn't resist temptation!

Appearance- Deep & Dark inviting color like the night of a new moon. Pours a very rich and creamy looking tan head, plenty o-bubbles.

Smell- malty, biscuity, nutty with a strong smell of alcohol. The malt really shines thru on this. No noticeable hop aroma picked up with this beer.

Taste-Carmel notes, toasted, roasted malt and tobacco, very alcoholic with a subtle astringent undertone, almost winey. Clearly a well balanced beer with high gravity in mind.

Adequate carbonation. This is a warming full bodied, smooth drinking beer. It's easy to believe that this is an all malt beverage, let alone over 10%. It's clearly got the body to go with the style.

Drinkability- This is a big beer. I could probably handle more then one on a cold Winter's night, but alas for a showery Autumn evening one is the perfect amount.
This beer should age very well. It's as complex as it gets and it would be a shame if the 2007 were no longer available to me locally (within 25 miles).
Outstanding beer. Well done Stone!

Photo of rallison
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage purchased from Stuffed Sandwich. I've got these going back a couple years - but, to get an 02 (a year where I wasn't close to being of legal age), I had to rely on other means. Opened for my father's birthday - I think he appreciated.

A: Dark black - slightly muddy - with a 1/2 finger head that dies relatively quickly.

S: Dates, plums, molasses and brandy - nice!

T: Brandy-soaked plums, raisins, some chocolate & coffee. I've had many fresh bottles and those don't have anywhere near the dark fruit characteristics. The chocolate and roasted flavors have mellowed out, and the fruits have definitely come out on this one. A truly different beer - and a very tasty one at that.

M: Somewhat rich, low carbonation. I like it.

D: Very drinkable. I want more!

Highly recommended. Can't wait to try the 2001 I've got!

Photo of wcudwight
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Received in a trade.
Pours pitch black with a nice 2 finger chocolate colored head. That recedes to a filmy lace on top of the glass. Lace falls in sheets on the sides of the glass.
Smells of rich roasted coffee.
Full bodied, heavy on the palate and full of flavor. Big roasted backbone with some coffee flavors and just a touch of sweetness.
This beer is thick and heavy in the mouth. I love it.
It's a sipper but a great beer.
I reviewed a Stone RIS that I'd aged a year over the summer. I liked it better aged but this is stilll a damn good beer. I long for the days that Stone comes to NC.

Photo of umustdrink
4.69/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My belated birthday beer
A Spring 2007 edition, got in a trade from MiScusi

A - Jet black color, yields almost no light, I was able to get some color out of the bottom edge of the glass: a deep ruby red. Head is one of the darkest brown colors I've seen on a beer, it was grainy and swirled with lighter streaks. Unfortunately it faded to a patchy film. Minimal lacing, just a few streaks.

S - The most prominent smell here is a raisiny sweet toasted malt. Background is thick with aromas, sweet creamy vanilla, fresh baked bread, butter, some sharper spices and some muted bitterness. Little to no alcohol detected in the smell.

T/M - The taste starts with a nice bittery bite and quickly into the darker flavors. A smooth and creamy dark roasted malts, a very light bitterness comes in from the roasting but overall its a very creamy taste. Right after the swallow a wave of flavors hit, just a quick blast of rich cream with a very sharp bitter coffee malt. The finish leaves a toasted maltiness with a coffee-like bitterness.

D - I'm glad I got 2 of these. This is an excellent stout and definitely worth the stop on the quest to try the worlds greatest imperial stouts.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,451 ratings.