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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,366 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,366
Reviews: 2,614
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 618
Gots: 1,684 | FT: 91
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: 7,366 | Reviews: 2,614 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BBM
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It feels like the middle of summer, but this beer still hit the spot. It poured a beautiful jet black from the tap, slowly finishing with a thick, chunky brown head. It really is a pretty beer. The aroma means business. Woody, dark fruits, alcohol, all tease the nostrils.

I will admit I had a certain expectation going into this beer, but after the first sip, I realized why all other Imperial Stouts are playing from behind. A wonderfully complex palate, alternating from sweet dark fruits and chocolate to a stern, warming alcohol. There is a definite roasted flavor here, along with hints of sweet molasses. Each sip invites another. The mouthfeel is full-bodied and creamy. Even at 11% this beer is incredibly drinkable, and for me is the gold standard of Russian Imperial Stouts.

Photo of Maerzen
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap last night at Toronado where they were featuring Stone beers. Pours extremely dark, almost black. The foam is thick and a dark mocha. Nice mix of hop, malt and chocolate. The alcohol is present on the palette. Very enjoyable. Definitely a beer to sit and enjoy slowly. A bit over powering for food.

Photo of CortexBomb
3.91/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had the luck of running into this on tap at Ashley's in Ann Arbor.

Textbook Imperial pour, jet with a tan head on top, good lacing, really hard to find any fault here. The nose is heavy on the chocolate with other subtle, sweet tones also present...sugar, caramel.

The flavour on this was a fairly standard take on the style. A malty profile with the chocolate and caramel tones from the nose coupled with the roasty backbone that makes the Russian style what it is. Not a lot of hops present. I like the direction that they were going with the flavour, but it is almost too well-balanced, it's tasty, but nothing really jumps out at me either.

The mouth on this was thick, coating, appropriate for the style. Tremendous marks for the easy drinking nature of this though, no problem drinking a pint, I would say it is amongst the most drinkable of the big Russian Imperials that I've had.

The bottom line: This isn't a bad beer, but it is not as exceptional as Stone's other big beers. I wouldn't pass one up, but there are many others in the style that I enjoy more.

Photo of Damian
3.6/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Drank from a 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Liquor World, Cambridge, MA
Bottle label read: "Limited Spring 2007 release"

Poured an absolutely opaque, pitch black with no head but rather a thin, coffee-colored film of lace that transformed into a clingy ring.

The aroma was powerful and complex. Coffee, powdered cocoa, brown sugar and a rich, rummy alcohol presence were instantly recognizable. A powdery, yeastiness lingered in the background. As the beer warmed, notes of oak, bourbon, raisins and dark fruits (and possibly bananas) came out as well. An oxidative character, similar to wet paper, also became detectable.

The taste was deep, dark and intense. A roasted, almost burnt maltiness was noticeably strong up front. Sweeter notes of brown sugar, dried fruits (raisins, currants and prunes) and rummy alcohol came through mid-palate. At 10.8% ABV, however, I was astonished at how well the alcohol was masked. Slight oxidative notes were also detectable and became progressively more apparent as the beer warmed. An oaky, bourbon-like flavor came out as well. The beer became quite hoppy (clean, crisp, minty hops) on the back end, with the hops turning bitter as they carried into the very dry, tannic finish. The hop bitterness lingered on my palate for what seemed to be an eternity.

Mouthfeel was ridiculously thick and viscous, with a nice creamy frothiness for added measure. This was unquestionably one of the most deep, dark, rich, thick and overall intense imperial stouts I have ever sampled.

While many applaud its extreme nature, I felt somewhat overwhelmed by its flavor profile, which came off as rather sharp and astringent at times. This is a good beer, but I am not sure that it deserves the attention it receives.

Photo of cbreitro
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a fine beer. Imperial stouts are one of my favorite styles. Stone has a great stout. It is dark, the head was not very thick, but not bad.
The smell was a bit bland.
I liked the taste. I would rate it higher if it had a more complex taste. Not hoppy enough for my taste.

Perhaps the best thing about Stone's imperial stout is its drinkablility. Though strong, it does not have a strong alcohol taste.

Photo of ndekke39
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Split a bomber of this with a good friend. Part of the Spring 2007 Limited Edition release. Pours a completely opaque black with a thin, off-white head. Poured it into a brandy snifter - maybe the wrong glass, but it seems to fit. Wow! What complex aromas and flavors! Smells like so many things: dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, raisins, cherries, caramel, molasses, all with a smoky tip to it. Tastes are wonderfully balanced: dark and sweet flavors of molasses, brown sugar, cherries, raisins, and chocolate. Nice bitterness from the coffee and a touch of hops. The flavors travel nicely through the sweet and bitterness, and ends with a wonderful smokiness. Nice, thick mouthfeel - perfect for the huge flavors at work here. Still, none of the elements are overpowering, which makes this a wonderful, highly drinkable beer. I'm looking forward to having this beer again.

Photo of mcallister
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been waiting to try this on tap and now is the time. 2007 edition.

Completely opaque nearing midnight. Head is thick and tightly wound. A rich shade of mocha. Falls leaving little lacing into a foamy top.

Rich with dark chocolate semi sweetened. Hints of roasted coffee, mollasses, toffee, cooking caramel, with black currant, black cherry, vanilla bean, and an alcoholic expression.

Thick, chewy, full, rich, forever finishing mouthfeel. Nice somewhat citrusy hop, bitter hop finish. Rich and roasty flavors with a tingly feeling on the toungue. Anise lending toward black licorice. Full and oozing fudge and dark chocolate. RS is decent and I like the inclusion from keeping this bone dry. Black chocolate covered cherry, chocolate covered raisin, rum soaked raisin, and vanilla fill out the mouthfeel with both black currant and read currant esters.

Delicious and easy to drink. Needs some time to tame itself however.

Photo of SaucyA
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I wouldn't consider this the end-all/be-all of beers, but it's another great offering from Stone.

2007 batch, found at a local supermarket, managed to snag the last two bottles. One for now, and one for later!

A - Looks great, how an imperial stout should pour. Great dark head, but leaving little lacing. I'm curious as to how clean the glass I poured it into was orignally. BLACK, oily goodness.

S - Smell is great but dare I say.. could be better? I'm not getting much more than a crazy yeast affect, with tinges of chocolatey malt undertones. I smell coffee and a MAJOR alcohol overtone as well. My mouth IS watering.

T - Perfect. What a RIS should taste like. I've never had a better offering, on tap or in bottle. The variety of flavors is definitely second to none, and should be experienced by all BA's. Served a little cooler than room temperature, nuances jump out at you like hot embers from a fire. Chocolate, plums, raisins, coffee, alchohol, anise (barely)... all put together with a creamy silk-like mouthfeel. As if they weren't already aware, Stone really does a great job with this beer.

D - The only qualm I have against this HUGE beer is the abv, which can smack you in the face quicker than you'd like to imagine. I've only nipped my glass a couple times and already feel the effects. I can't imagine drinking more than 2 bombers.

All in all, another beautiful beer from Stone. They really know how to brew a good drink!

Photo of cpn920
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Simply put, the best beer I have ever had. Certainly I have not experienced as many different beers than many of the reviewers on this site, but again the best beer I have ever had. The visual appeal is amazing. The darkness of the stout is unlike any others that I have experienced. It had a wonderful rich smell and the taste lived up to it's appearance. The taste was incredibly smooth considering it's abv. I sipped this beer after dinner and could have drank two or three but I probably would not be able to walk or talk. Truly a great drinking experience.

Photo of ArrogantB
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottle 05/14/2007

Cellared for a year. I poured this beer into my snifter and it was a dark black with slight brown edges. A short brown head faded quickly until no bubbles were left. The smell was slightly chocolate. The taste was vinous and reminded me of wine. There was a little plum flavor going on. This was much better than the 2007 bottle I had a couple weeks back but this can probably still use a year on it.

2007 bottle 02/23/2008

Beautiful smell like gourmet chocolates, an amazing improvement over the last year. This beer is a really good example of a cellar-worthy beer.

2006 bottle 04/20/08

This is about two years old now and I'm a little disappointed in how its aged. It doesn't taste as good as the 07 I had a couple months back. It has almost six bubbles total and no carbonation. It is sticky sweet but no chocolate or roasty flavors, mostly dark fruits. hopefully this will pick back up in a couple months.

2006 vintage 01/10/09

smells malty grains, some chocolate, tastes good and probably can't get much better. Drink 'em if you got 'em.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 22oz bomber that had beeen aged for one year. Poured black with a brown head that faded quickly and left minimal lacing. The smell was of sweet stewed dry fruit, especially prunes and dark cherries; as well as dark malt, a touch off soy, and a hint of anise at the end. The aroma of alcohol has been tamed by the aging. The taste is very mellow at this point, and markedly similar to the aromas with the addition of a tasty black licorice finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, but not remarkably so. After some aging, this one is pretty drinkable. Overall, a very good beer, and probably more drinkable and enjoyable for the aging, but probably not quite the elixer its made out to be. Quite good, but don't kill yourself trying to find it.

Photo of boxofepilepsy
4.84/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

bomber to .5 liter glass. pours completely black with a notable head the color of chocolate milk.

smell- huge roasted malt presence with chocolate and a little coffee. i can't find the alcohol.

the complex taste of this beer even exceeds the hype. a lot of roasted malts dominant with dark chocolate, espresso and woody flavors. sweet caramel is subtle. everything in balance. again, the alcohol nearly invisible. a very thick brew.

drinkability is much better than i had expected. despite its complexity and powerful alcohol content, i could sip this one all night. one of the best beers i've ever tasted.

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

Sampled the limited 2007 release.

Appearance - The pour on this beer is incredible. You get the rich black of a motor oil, minus the viscosity. You also get a very thin dark head on the end of the pour. I'm particularly impressed with the lacing. This beer holds well.

Smell - The smell is very malty. I wouldn't call it overwhelming, but despite the high IBUs on this beer, the malts really come through.

Taste - Wow. This is no joke. The taste is very complex, but what I find more remarkable is how the high ABV is truly palatable. I get chocolate and coffee hints, but its almost secondary to the all-around great taste of the beer. The combination of the flavors and above all the maltiness of the beer really comes together to create something truly magnificent.

Mouthfeel - Thick. Drinking this beer is much like eating a loaf of bread, but as long as you know what you're getting into, the mouthfeel should not put you off. Don't mistake thick for chunky. This is an incredibly smooth beer; you're going to find uniform consistency from the first drop to the last.

Drinkablity - This is the ideal special release. It comes out at the right time of the year so that you can compare it with other Imperial Stouts. This one definitely ranks among the finest. In closing, I think this is perhaps the first beer I've ever had that I wasn't so much concerned about food pairings. I think this beer is so good that food pairings are almost a distraction to the complexity of this offering.

Photo of bjoyce12
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, you're getting what you expect with this stout. Pours a dark, dark, brown, nearly black. Good brownish-copper head that lingers. But it's in the taste and feel of this beer that you get your money's worth. A strong flavor of rye bread comes through with first sip and lasts to the last drop. A full, dense drink that I compare more to a hearty stew than a beer. Stone packs an incredible amount of taste into it, and with 10.8% abv, it packs a wallop. A great choice to accompany a meal on a winter's night.

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

This guy is a monster. Sipped slowly from the big bomber.

Appearance- Pours a BEAUTIFULLY dark almost syrup like texture. Contains a subtle dark brown head around the rim. You can't see through it and it looks like a darker flat coke.

Smell- The smell consists of maltiness. It is not overwhelming, and it actually is almost a facade to its mighty kick in the face taste. The malts are really something though. You can smell the blend it is smoothly perfected.

Taste- This is the monster that is Stone. It is strong and malty and the alcohol is more then palpable. It is truly great, but it is not for the faint of heart. I loved its power and authority but it was a little to strong for me. This may be the strongest stout I've had yet, almost working its way up to the complexity of a Quadruple but twice as thick. I felt a little taken advantage of when I finished it, I was honestly waiting for it to apologize and hand me my pants back.

Mouthfeel- Thick and hearty. Great example of an Imperial Stout, and so far my most complex.

Drinkablity- Smoother then the Brooklyn Chocolate, but this one was harder to drink in terms of bite. I feel like it starts out welcoming then it turns into a bull and the power really shows you what's up.

Another greatly offensive beer from Stone, Oh how I love them so.

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

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a Sam Adams tasting glass.

Appearance - A dark, opaque dark brown/black liquid with a thin tan head. No lacing is left on the glass as it goes down. Appears to be very thick.

Aroma - It's all about roasty. I'm picking up some coffee and chocolate also.

Taste - Roastiness dominates. Some coffee and chocolate are in there. Most noticeably, there is no strong alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel - Full with a medium finish.

Drinkability - Fantastic for this style. Nothing in this is too overpowering, yet it is still full of flavor. It's amazing that you can't really taste the alcohol going down. A great beer!

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Limited Spring 2007 Release / 22 oz bomber

A - Black as night with a brown head that settles to a thin layer, no real lacing, but this is a stout.

S - Aroma of dark roasted coffee and black currant.

T - WOW! This is an exceptionally tasty stout. The best I've had this season. Roasted flavor, 10.8% abv is very well hidden in the taste.

M - Thick and creamy, mild carbonation, goes down smooth and easy.

D - I said you couldn't taste the alcohol, but damn, you will sure feel it. Drinkability is still a little better than 'good'.

Overall this is a very fine example of the style and like I said before, it's the best Imperial Stout I've had from this year's offerings.

Photo of StargherKing
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been looking forward to this one for a while. Pours dark, jet black, with coffee-colored head. A less beer-savvy friend watched the pour and asked if I was drinking beer or motor oil. Smell was coffee, caramel, some fruity notes (grape? currant maybe?), and just a hint of toffee. The taste is bitter, a lot more hops than I was expecting (though since this IS a Stone brew I suppose I should have known), with a strong coffee/toffee flavor, undercurrents of caramel and that same grape/currant flavor that I noticed in the aroma. Mouthfeel is very thick, but it seems like the carbonation and bitter hops keep it from coating too much. Personally, the 10.8 ABV on this one hit me like a load of bricks. Reading the bottle, they reccomend buying in bulk and cellaring to enjoy the aging...I may just have to try that.

Photo of SaltyLime
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have found my precious. I started with one bomber to sample and have since bought every bottle I find at the local liquor stores.

Appearance - Black with a cappuccino brown colored one-finger thick head that lasted to the end. Poured thick and reminded me of motor oil.

Smell - Very little if it is still too cold. Let it warm up a little and the joy of chocolate and roasted malts come out.

Taste - The light aromas threw me off with the first taste, this one kicks ass. This complex beer hits your palate in layers, first is the maltiness which is probably initiated by the foamy head. Next comes a little bite of hops, not too bitter and not too subdued. Then it finishes off with a dry, soft taste of roasted coffee beans. Solid flavor.

Mouthfeel - Thick. No pesky carbonation. Mellow.

Drinkability - Drinking any beer after this is a step down. Be mindful of the ABV, it's so good that I always seem to forget.

Photo of quikfish13
4.82/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Straight from the bomber, this brew poured a thick and rich black. A very foamy brown head tops my glass of crude motor oil. The head lasts the entire time I write this review.

Upfront smells of chocolate and roasted malts. A nice hint of coffee but with a definete sweet undertone to the smell.

A very nice bitter coffee taste upfront with a hint of cocoa. The chocolate doesn't come through until the very end. There is a definete alchohaulic bite to it but the earthy malts and hops mask it well. Stone brews for people who like BEER, and it shows in the bold flavors in this one.

Very thick and creamy but a smooth beer that goes down very easliy witch I find somewhat surprising for this style. I could drink on this for a while.

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

Poured into a La Chouffe tulip. The color is pitch black with a very nice tan head that goes away fast leaving a little bit of lacing - not as thick as some stouts I've had. Smell is roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some anise/black licorice, and some dark fruit - very nice. The taste is precisely what an Imperial stout should taste like, IMO - big dark roasted coffee up front segues into dark chocolate and a nice note of tart cherry & anise. The finish is dry and mellow. The mouthfeel is very creamy and thick, but a could be a little richer. This is one mighty fine brew - very tasty and easy to drink. It'll be interesting to see how this stands up next to Dark Lord. Another winner from Stone. Highest Recommendation.

Photo of swhitt
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one seriously delicious beer. I haven't been reviewing in a while due to laziness, but this one prompted me to get of my lazy ass and open up notepad. I had the 2006 last year, and it was good. This bottle is from the Spring 2007 release and it is absolutely amazing. Courtesy of the Wine Gallery Kenmore in Boston- those guys are great, check them out.

Pours completely black into my dogfish head pint glass with an off-brown foamy head. This isn't very heady but it still looks damn good. Smell is malty and dark chocolate/espresso with a bunch of floral notes from the hops. Taste is smooth and accentuated by the hops. ROASTY and some serious (but good) alcohol heat. Wow.

I got a half case, but I doubt I'll be able to age any of these. I just don't have the strength to not drink this bomber of happiness.

Photo of MmmIPA
4.51/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

For all you guys that just got a Dark Lord,this is my "Dark Lord"
Poured into a Chimay chalice.

Brown thing head that looks stunning.Black body that is very thick and opaque except for the bottem of the chalice that looks a bit blue/green.Head falls to a ring.

Roasted malts,some sweet chocolate,coffee and fruit smells.

Roasted malt,then some sweet chocolate.The taste sticks to my gums and leaves a dank aftertaste in the rest of my mouth.Coffee notes and some fruit notes.

Very slick and oilly and very creamy.carbonation is almost non existent except for some slight fizz.Very thick body.

Despite the ABV this beer is Fcking awesome and very filling and brilliant for the style.

Photo of crwills
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Mahar's in Albany. Just read my previous review, and had about the same experience with it this time. I think this was a different year than the bottle I had before, but it doesn't seem to have changed much. Tap version is a little more kicky with the alcohol presence (negative for me) and noticeably smoother and less carbonated in the mouthfeel (positive).

Also, it kicked my ass after having not eaten most of the day. Oops.

Photo of Redwood21
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


This beer is black....like a sports car, or oil. with a thick tan head. i love this beers look. there is some good lacing too

smell is not strong but has some sweet caramel maltyness
very enjoyable and hints to what you will soon be drinking

the taste is great. probably my fav stout right now. sooo smooth and balanced and creamy. there is some sweet malty ness. im not really sure how to describe it other than if you like stouts. pick up a bottle, grab a glass, pour, and enjoy, its just so enjoyable, and at 10.8% could get you in trouble if you have more than one bottle, very good

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,366 ratings.