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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,356 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,356
Reviews: 2,614
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 614
Gots: 1,678 | 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: 7,356 | Reviews: 2,614 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dbalsock
4.71/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006 (about a year old)
Appearance: Poured dark black... like there's any other kind of black... could use more head and lacing.

Smell: Fruity aroma comes through with the coffee and hint of chocolate. Strawberries are on the forefront of the nose and make this incredibly enticing.

Taste: Again the strawberries with coffee and chocolate. It's sweeter than I remember, and the hops are almost gone now. The coffee comes in on the aftertaste to round out the taste, with the fruit esters in front and the chocolate (milkish chocolate) in the middle.

Mouthfeel: Smoothed over since it was out last year. The alcohol is less noticeable, almost non-existent for me, and the hop bitterness was gone. It was smooth and thick on the way down. Quite an experience.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink. I would want to session this, but that's a little dangerous. I could go throug a bottle of this regularly, if it was that available.

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

2006 vintage

A- deep brown possibly black brew w/ a good holding 1 1/2 finger tan head that settles to a tan crown.

S- roasted malts, creamy sweetness

T- malty sweet and hoppy bitter (malty bitter also), sweet cream, roasted and burnt malts, lingering alcohol burns, black licorice, coffee

M- full body and smooth, heat at finish through after, harsh on palate

D- complex, impressive, and enjoyable, special occassion kind of brew due to complexity of flavor, probably one of best RIS, but the alcohol is way to harsh.

Photo of kajerm
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very macho 750mL Stone bottle marked "limited spring 2006 release," purchased at the Brickskeller in DC-- last bottle in the storeroom. Victory.

Pours oil-slick black with a small but persistent tan head and slight lacing, which is a surprise, given the style.

The nose is loads of coffee mixed with malt, charred in the flaming pits of Hell. Some vanilla-ish aroma. Maybe this beer really IS as evil as Stone makes it out to be. I'm excited.

Tastes like it smells, coffee flavor, dark-roasted malts, and black malt bitterness on the finish. Some woody and vanilla flavors appear mid-palate. This is an incredible, incredible Imperial Stout.

The mouthfeel is chewy and substantial, balanced by carbonation, more than I was expecting. It keeps this beer on earth, and maintains a modicum of drinkability.

Bubbles notwithstanding, though, you'd have a hard time pounding these.

Photo of gonzo138
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2007 release

A- pours jet black (i mean BLACK, when help up to a lightbulb light does not pass through this beer) with a with a rich brown colored head that retains decently and laces nicely

S-smells of roasted malts, very chocolatey aroma, also coffee smell is very noticable, light citric hop aroma is slightly present as well

T-rich and semi-sweet, chocolate/coffee taste is very present as in smell, slight citric hop flavor present at the finish

M- very thick, full bodied, with suprisingly good carboantion for a beer this thick

D- dont think there is any way i could possibly drink more than one of these in a night, im not a big stout fan, but this one i look forward to every year, love it

Photo of objectivemonkey
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not quite sure what happened here. I have a one year cellared special bottle, treated like a baby, was all set and ready to sing its praises... not so much.

Into a tulip glass, pours a pitch dark, thick black with a half inch of tan head, receding to a thin foam, pretty good lacing that sticks in bubbles, but not much. The aroma was depressingly weak, kind of chalky, charred malts distracting from what should and is a lovely roasted malt and coffee grounds.

The taste is better, but still thought it lacking. Where is that arrogance? that might? the alcohol and bitterness? I just don't find it here in the quantity I should, and can't understand why it could be. Its very mellowed out. Its still good, lots of roasted malts with faint chocolate tones, coffee ground into it, the hops a bit fleeting. The mouth is pretty good, not all that full, or warming, what you'd hope a RIS to be.

Basically, something happened to this bottle. It had to have, because I can't believe I'm going to score this beer so low, and give it such a sad review. I'll have to procure another bottle and re-review in the near future.

Photo of Imstillthegman
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Summer 2005 release. I got this bottle from Zorro about a year ago.

Poured a viscous, opaque black. Thin golden brown head quickly faded to just a ring with a strange ghostly looking film floating in the middle of the glass.

The aroma is improving as it warms up. I smell some dark roasted malts, soy sauce, anise, sweet dark chocolate, faint coffee and some burning alcohol in the background.

The flavor surprises me a bit after smelling it. I get more coffee and chocolate than what I smelled. There is still a noticeable alcohol presence, but it complements the other flavors. The soy sauce shows up at the finish with a sweet and sour type of kick. Age has done this one quite well.

Thick and chewy. Very little carbonation. Some alcohol burn in the aftertaste. I like this one, but I am not sure if I can get through the whole bomber on my own. Heavy with a higher abv...this is one to share.

Photo of Onibubba
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2005 Bottle. Poured black with a short tight 1/2 " brown head. Very nice. Heady rich smells of soy and sesame oil. Taste is sweet, sweet maltiness. Mouthfeel is thick, oily and indulgent. Carbonation is sublime, but there. Age has really tamed the hops and the alcohol in this. It would be insanely drinkable were it not for the sheer malty sweetness of the beer. Very nice, but a bit much to finish a bomber.

Photo of david131
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stone IRS is absolutely stunning- worthy of the hype and my first 5.0. I cannot think of anything to make this beer better than it is.

Spring 2006 bottling.

A- Poured a black as night, thick black liquid. When held to a light, I could see no light peeking through on the edges. The head that formed was a beautiful brown head that slowly settled to a nice marbling on the surface of the liquid. Even at the very end, there was still some remnants to the head. Gorgeous.

S- Wow. I could smell this as soon as I cracked open the top. Sweet, roasted malts, chocolate, black licorice, and some cinnamon are present. Could not find any hint of alcohol in the nose.

T- Perfect balance of sweet and roastiness. Brown sugar, vanilla, oak, smokiness, chocolate, black licorice, raisin, cinnamon. There is a lot going on here. Amazing. Everything blends so well together. This is a great beer to let wander your palate. Again, no alcohol presence.

M- The carbonation level in this is perfect. Not too much to make it feel light, but just enough to enhance the flavor. Very very smooth.

D- For such a big beer in a bomber, I found myself wanting more as I polished off the bottle. This is a remarkable beer that I was very skeptical of before I cracked it open- but damn... this is liquid gold.

Photo of brewcrew76
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Spring 2006 release

A - Pours a solid black, so dark there are no highlights to be found anywhere. Thin brown head that disappears quickly without lacing.

S - Strong aroma with bitter chocolate dominating followed by roasted malt, caramel and a touch of coffee.

T - Bitter chocolate, coffee, dark fruits with a hint of toffee and caramel. Very complex.

M - Full bodied with light carbonation making this thick and and warming.

D - A great beer with the only thing keeping me of drinking many of these is the ABV which is expected in an RIS. A very tasty beer.

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

Received in trade with cooperrip thanks again. Bottle states “limited spring 2006 release” Served a bit below room right into a nonic. Tan head rose and fell and lingers on the surface. The body is black oily and completely opaque. Smells is robust, salty, smoky, earthy, maybe some brown sugar, dirty coffee hints of caramel and that slight anise character typical in some RIS, but subtle and perfectly executed. Taste is big, chewy, meaty, yet immediately approachable. I get an excellent roasted flavor, colored by a nutty character that makes it sort of pop in my mouth. Bitterness is perfectly balanced definitely not as aggressive as some, but provides tasteful ballast. Mouthfeel is wonderful, well balanced, surly and big, yet so tasty and easy to drink. This great offering starts aromatic and tasty and ends in very welcome alcohol warmth. I am very pleased to have had this wanderful brew. Great companion on a cold night, a simply great brew from a great brewery. God I wish I could get a case and do as they suggest…

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

22oz. bomber that claimed limited spring 2006 release

Pours black and syrupy in snifter. Thin ring of mocha colored head along with a swirl and some bubbles on top. First smell was almost like prunes and roasted coffee. Might not sound too appealing, but it really is once the other smells come out as it warms. Weak molasses smell and a big chocolate smell came out later along with a mellow anise/licorice smell. Tastes upfront of sweet chocolate with roast coffee beans and roasted but not burnt malt flavors. Almost perfect carbonation in mouthfeel, very smooth but faintly bubbly on tongue and creamy if left to hang around. Drinkability is excellent as the alcohol is well-hidden. The entire experience of this beer just gets so much better with every sip. Can't wait for the next batch to hit! Definitely my favorite offering from Stone.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to unclejedi for the bottle!

Poured a deep black, opaque, no light through this baby! Creamy head gave way to some crazy brown lace, couldn''t hardly see through the glass! Nuts looking dripping down the glass. Black as night this was. The smell, holy crap, CHOCOLATE. I thought I was sniffing hershey, the chocolate smell was so overpowering, my wife could smell it next to me. As it warmed, hints of coffee and alcohol tingled the nose. Taste started out with coffee, sugary caramel sweetness, hints of chocolate, not as pronounced as the smell. There is a definate alcohol warming on this one, definate, but is is very good. Fel is very thick, almost shake like, very good RIS, very nice and another hit from stone, I thoroughly enjoyed this and can only hope to have another one day!

2008 Update

Finally got a hold of this years IRS from Stone. Needless to say, I was happy to see this one show up on my doorstep, as you could always rest assured you were going to have a top quality brew on your hands with this one. The pour was just as to be expected. A deep dark black liquid, that was completely opaque. A big three finger high head of tan colored lace was stretched over the top and took a good long while to finally settle down. Once it did, there was still a good-sized head on top that stayed around an inch high for the rest of the session. Very nice side glass presentation left lots of brown foam all over the glass. Your classic big stout.

The aroma was full and rich, and very sweet. Lots of lactose and cocoa hints were rippling throughout. The aroma of fresh roasted coffee provided some bitterness and a touch of depth to it, as did the hint of alcohol that was all over the back of this one. The flavor followed it along perfectly. Very big and rich, with a deep layer of chocolate and coffee that provided the bulk of the flavor here. The alcohol was a bit hot at first, but given time to warm up to room temperature, it turned into a wonderfully big and mellow stout. The finish had a nice touch of bitterness to it, and the slightest bit of hops dried you out and left you with a long drawn out flavor of sugar-filled coffee. Great feel on this one, with a full body that left the nice little bit of a creamy feel to it. The alcohol was hard to escape at almost 11%, but was surprisingly more mellow then you would have thought, leading this one to be a superb sipper, and perfectly tailored for the late night tasting.

Overall, I thought this was very good, and definitely up there with some of the best in the style. A big, strong, full stout that you must respect when drinking. Do not take this one lightly, just because it is a little bit more available then some of the others, is no reason to pass it by.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle is Spring 2006 release. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head which went away pretty quickly. It smells like coffee, chocolate and dark fruit. It tastes the same way to me but with a bit of spicyness in the flavor too. It starts off sweet and then finishes with a nice hop bitterness which lingers around a while. The alcohol is well hidden, but you can taste it here and there. Mouthfeel is medium/full, it's smooth, creamy and slick. Drinkability is very good, it goes down easy and almost as soon as I was done with one sip, I was ready to pick up the glass for another. Overall I think this is a very good beer, perfect to warm me up on a cold winter's day like this.

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

It poured the color of my Black Lab with a nice fat tan head. I have never seen anythink quite this dense a black. Big chunks of tan lacing as it slowly settled. Served at 55 degrees as suggested. Nose was chocolate, coffee, fruit, and spices. Wonderful. More hints of flavors than can really be identified. Great rich and smooth mouthfeel. Wonderful flavor of roasted malts. Hides alcohol well. Finish is smooth and good to the last drop. This one came with a very high reputation and lived up to it.

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

2006 vintage poured into a snifter glass. Appears almost pitch black with barely half an inch of caramel colored foam. Smells of dark, roasted malts, and dark chocolate. Tastes of rich, fresh brewed coffee, milk chocolate and vanilla. A little thin in the mouth but with medium carbonation. Alcohol is more noticeable than I'd like even after at least seven or eight months in the cellar. I look forward to tasting this again after about another half a year.

Photo of jhicks12
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark as midnight, used motor oilish. with a nice dark tan head.

Smell: Very nice malty chocolate and coffee smell.

Taste: Tasted the same as it smelled nice chocolate coffee roasted taste...delish

Mouthfeel. NIce creamy full mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Nice beer to warm ya up...just enough alcohol taste and great flavors

Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Black as black can be, with a small dark tan head that leaves moderate lacing as it wanes.

Smells of dried fruit, alcohol, bitter chocolate and dark roasted malts. The aroma is very complex and enjoyable. Taking several whiffs before each sip is definitely working well for me.

Tastes of dark malt, chocolate, and prune, with a warm alcohol and bitter hop finish. Warm. This just warms you all the way down and makes you glad to be alive and drinking a beer.

This stout is rich, creamy and warm. The body is superb and it just makes your whole mouth happy.

All I can say about drinkability is that this bomber is a perfect end to a cold winter night after spending a couple hours outside.

Photo of foureyedgeek
3.83/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber split with a friend.

Pours a motor oil black, with a slight sheen, some crimson highlights on the very edges, a frothy dark brown head falls to almost nothing, less a few bubbles of foam. Only minimal lacing.

Smells of bittersweet chocolate, alcohol and a good dosing of hops.

Taste is rich, chocolatey with big notes of alcohol and a hoppy bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is kinda slick, medium bodied and very warming. The slickness is kind of off-putting and the body seems to be a tad light.

Drinkability is pretty good but this is not my favorite RIS. Maybe it was just an off night for me, maybe my expectations were too high. It is, though, another tasty, strong brew from Stone.

Photo of Morris729
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours thick ink-black with only a short creamy head at first, but the head continues to grow long after the initial pour before finally settling into a heavy lace. Nose is dark chocolate and espresso along with a bit of rum-raisin alcohol. Quite “sniffable.” Taste is heavy on the black malt with notes of black currant, prune, and anise along with some dark molasses. This is followed by some dark coffee and semi-sweet dark chocolate flavors followed by a dry and spicy alcohol note. Simply delicious. This beer is exceptional in every way. Thanks to beerdiablo for the sample!

Photo of kingchowchowwoof
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into the chalice. Dark tan head with medium to large bubbles that faded to a slight cloud that floated around the glass. Body is as dark as can be, no light passes through it when held up to lamp. Smell has a lot of molasses, coffee, and slight hazelnut, toffee, alcohol, and licorice. Taste is very chocolatey, dry and bitter hop, coffee, alcohol, aslo pick up some dark cherry, and blackberry. Mouthfeel is somewhat complex, fairly light at first with nice carbonation, then a heavy slick viscous finish long after taste that is quite pleasent. This was my last '06 kinda wish I had one more to age about another 8 months or so. Really good but not outstanding.

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

I had two of these in the past couple of weeks, one was an 05, the other an 06.

A syrupy pour yields a stormy black beauty with a walnut colored head with a touch of red in it. The smell is toasty and malty, and doesn't for a moment try to disguise the alcohol contained within. In the 06, in addition to noticing more hop character due to the aging of the 05, I also noticed a character similar to that of a Belgian Strong Dark. I'm guessing that they used a Belgian yeast in the 06, but I'll have to try the 05 again to see if it's there too. Anyway, the smell and flavor are both outstanding.

As with every other drop of beer from Stone, the mouth is delighted by the feel of this gorgeous, gorgeous beer. If this is a session brew, it's gonna be a very short session. That having been said, this is wonderfully sip-able, and goes great with a steak.

Photo of shlap
4.86/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Taste: This '06 release had a really stiff alcohol taste which trumped most every other flavor when I first cracked it open last spring. Now in '07 it's matured beautifully; absolutely perfect. Silky smooth black licorice, burnt smokey flavor, and sweet roasted chocolate malts with that signature Stone flavor I don't quite know how to describe.

Appearance: Motor oil. A black hole from which no light can escape.

Body: Silky smooth, full body.

Aroma: Sweet red wine and black licorice.

Head: A nice full brown head that dissapated too quickly. Four or five drinks and it was completely gone. Frowney Face.

Lacing: No lacing, none. Man, what a bummer.

Carbonation: Very very lightly carbonated.

Have Another?: Oh yes please. My favorite stout yet but to be fair, I don't have a lot of stouts under my belt.

Photo of zuggy9
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a stunner, and seriously changing my opinions of Russian imperial stouts! The beer pours black with a thick brown head. Dark but clean. The smell is strong with a nice array of sweet maltiness, earthy honey and chocolate and fruit notes, a bit of grain too. It drinks smooth, with chocolate, roasted malts and a bit of fruit. I can only describe the mouthfeel as silky. I could drink this all night!

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

Whoa buddy! This is quite a brew! Pours a very dark amberish brown with a dark tan head that was more prevalent than I expected. Smells wonderful, alcohol, dark berries, toffee, and sweet leather. Tastes just as complex. Definite currant and some other fruitiness as well as chocolate and toffee. The alcohol is more hidden than I thought. I've had a few double stouts but no imperial stouts, so I guess that is what I was expecting. But, this brew slapped me in the face and showed me what imperial stout means. Very complex and very, very good.

Photo of jj21
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 release (Thanks to biglove)
Pours black as night into a stemmed tulip creating a dark brown dense head that disappears all too soon leaving some lacing, but for the most part it was pretty lifeless. Somewhat disappointing as I had been waiting a year before opening this one. Aromas of chocolate and roasting coffee mask the alcohol well. Taste was excellent. The hops were muted and the malts shone through. Big and thick mouthfeel coats the mouth and throat while alcohol persists. Some dark fruits and sweetness but not what I expected. This was a lot easier to drink than I thought it would be. I expected a bomb of a stout (see DFH WWS) but it wasn't. Don't get me wrong- it was still a great Stout. I look forward to cracking open the 2006 tonight to see what it's like fresh.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,356 ratings.