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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,403 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,403
Reviews: 2,620
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 643
Gots: 1,714 | FT: 95
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: 7,403 | Reviews: 2,620 | Display Reviews Only:
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

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

Black as night with a tan, two fingers head. Head is airy with big bubbles, so it dissipates quickly.

Has malty, coffee aroma. Very inviting.

Taste does not dissapoint. A balanced combination of smoke, malt, sugars and bitterness. I didn't notice the alcohol, but I rarely do.

In the mouth, the brew is a bit thinner than I expected, but still creamy. The carbonation is light, but aggressive (if this makes sense). You can really feel the bubbles attacking your tongue. I've had better carbonation. Feels better if you let the beer sit for 10 minutes or so....

Drinkability? Fine for a imperial stout.

Not the first imperial stout I would grab, but undoubtably a really good one.

Photo of EStreet20
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My first crack at the '07. Poured into a snifter glass.

A - Visciously black liquid topped by a nice sized tan head. Totally opaque brew. Head stays nicely. A few lace rings on the snifter walls.

S - I get some coffee, some chocolate. Little bit of boozy smell as well.

T - Smooth and sweet. Carries some roastiness and finishes with a nice wash of bittterness. A great, layered bunch of flavors. Some black licorice thrown in. Really a complex brew.

M - Big and full. Coarts your mouth and really allows the flavors to roll around.

D - Each sip makes you want more. Complex. Sweet and bitter. Many flavors to mull over that all tie together nicely.

Notes: Bravo on another great IRS year from Stone. Great fresh, and I'd wager great with some age as well.

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

Completely opaque black, with an average sized dark tan head.

Aroma of roasty malt, greasy barbeque smoke, charcoal.

Taste is big on dark, roasty flavors with more smoky, burnt tones over top of hardwood notes. Starts smooth and incredibly creamy, then alcohol pushes through without adding too rough a feel. Very mild floral hops dot an otherwise pitch black taste array. Finish smooths out again with a drying, almost greasy thick smokiness.

Good balance for such a huge, heavy beer -- at no point is it overly alcoholic, nor bitter, nor dry. A nearly flawless RIS.

Photo of biking4beer
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber split with a friend and poured into a pint glass.

This beer is black, black. No light gets through. Poured aggressively and still only ended up with a slight tan head that dissipates to a whisp. Decent lacing.

Good aromas with this one. Roasted malts, coffee, chocolate. Chocolate, probably dark, is the big one here.

Taste is of ths same. Dark chocolate is the predominant flavor, but it's almost too sweet. Very bitter. Burnt/roasted malts. Coffee/espresso. Too bitter in the finish. Alcohol is very prevalent.

The carbonation is low. It's a very creamy beer, and thick, but not thick for an Impy Stout. I found it rather thin for the style.

Drinkability is definitely low. I'm glad I had someone to share this bomber with. I even had a hard time getting down my half. I have few more bottles of this, and I probably won't even touch another one for a year. Normally I would wait six months, but I had the same experience with a 6 month old 06 on tap. This one is not ready to be enjoyed in my opinion.

I did have some Green & Black's 70% Dark Chocolate with this beer (after my notes). It definitely helped quell the bitterness, but the alcohol remained. I typically like both those characteristics in a beer, but it's too much in this one right now.

I'll revisit this review after some aging.

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

I have had Stone Imperial Russian Stout several times now. First one was side by side with Speedway Stout and it just didn't stand up. Second was at a tasting when my palate was smashed and though I liked it seemed hot and I didn't feel I could write a fair review the third time was when I took my most thorough notes on the beer with several servings and then the fourth time was blindly in a stout tasting. Though I really enjoy this beer, must say I'm not sure it is in my All-time top 8 beers and it certainly can not compete with Péché Mortel, Alesmith and *certainly* not Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. I think Stone beers may get a bias a tad because of all the rest of there great beers. Still, I love it.
Appearance: Pours Black with a short light brown head.
Smell: Rich chocolate, malts, vanilla and a warm boozy alcohol.
Taste: Chocolate malt, and an aggressive roastyness paired with bitter hop bite and a boozy heat makes this a monster to be reckoned with.
Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth not nearly as thick as I expected. It works for this hot beer though to be a tad lighter in the mouth.
Drinkability: The alcohol is a bit inhibiting when it comes to trying consume this in less than an extended sitting. Take your time with it. I was told that this is a beer that reaches all of it's hype after a year or more in the cellar. I will certainly come back to it again in the future.

Hope this is helpful.

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

Tasted on 4/19/07 The 2007 version
First of all, I want to say that this beer is probably my favorite beer of all time.
Appearance: Dark black with a tan coffee head that dissapates quite quickly
Smell: Absolutely fantastic. Chocolate, coffee, toffee, roasted malts, alcohol
Taste: Great! As stated earlier, my favorite beer ever. I find something new in every bottle and every taste.
Mouthfeel: silky, smooth, abrasive in a good way, malty, heavy
Drinkability: Easily consumed and hard to share.
I have only had the 2006 and 2007 versions of this beer after searching for a while for this offering. I love it and can't wait to drink my other bottle of '07 as well as future bottlings of this magic elixir. If you haven't had the pleasure of drinking a Stone IRS, do yourself a favor and procure one. Do whatever it takes, this truly is the epitome of craft beer in this man's eyes. Well done Greg

Photo of illidurit
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage poured into a pint glass. The beer is murky and black; the carbonation struggles to make its way to the top where it crests as a beautiful tan froth of a bit less than an inch.

Immediately my nose is pummeled with scents of chocolate and coffee, as well as a subtle alcohol sharpness.

The balance in this beer's taste is impeccable; like eating a chocolate-covered coffee bean it starts out sweet and then melds seamlessly into a slightly bitter roasty flavor. Booziness makes an appearance as the beer warms.

The mouthfeel here is just exceptional. Full bodied with just enough carbonation to prevent it from being cloying. Ridiculously smooth.

Drinkability is phenomenal.

Absolutely lives up to the hype and my expectations. Superb.

Photo of k3n
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bomber, 2007 vintage

A: Pours thick and black into my pint glass, with an inch of tightly packed bubbles. The head fades down to a thin layer, leaves nice lacing all over the glass.

S: Fruity, estery, a bit of alcohol heat.

T: As Emeril says, "Bam!" Even the smallest sip just fills the mouth with a cacaphony of flavors. Sip this one to get the most mileage out of it! It's like a chocolate shake beer! Tons of chocolate and vanilla, figgy dark fruit flavors, and a bit of drying hop bitterness in the end, but the bitterness doesn't stop the beer from lingering long after it's swallowed. Wow.

M: Full. Thick. Wonderful.

D: o.m.g. yes.

Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Edition. I bought this from a place I trust to keep their beer refrigerated and in the (relative) dark. I always seem to find Stone's RIS a bit too warm/alcohol-y when it's young, so we'll see how this does.

Appearance: Thing is literally impenetrable by light. Pours with a barely there froth, but the froth is menacing. The most consistently tan/coffee-colored stout foam I've ever seen. Just a solid, dark, menacing (I know, this is an adjective that comes up a lot with stouts or this stout in particular, but it's entirely appropriate) stuff that also produces some bubbly, cauldronically tan lacing. Again, the body? It's a solid black.

Smell: A familiar RIS aroma, amplified a bit. A deep nuttiness at first - almond, walnut, followed by a stinging, bittersweet chocolate. Massively roasty - dark, dark, dark coffee beans. A fragrant perfumey quality that reminds one of cinnamon or nutmeg. Some hint of fig, plums, dark fruits. All typical RIS flavors, yes, but boldened. I think complaints of Stone's "bigger is better" brewing philosophy being fallacious can decidedly fall on deaf ears with an RIS. RIS's should be large, and Stone does it perhaps better than anyone.

Taste: A slight metallic quality. Not sure where that comes from, but it does knock down the rating a bit. Sort of infuses with the alcoholic sting, which is present still but is, yes, MUCH more toned down after a year of brooding. Very bitter turkish coffee, more present in the initial taste than I'm used to, but also, familarally for the style, on the back end. Some creamy quality, sort of like coconut milk and some cinnamon-like Indian spices. Chocolates of many different, difficulty pinpointed varieties. Some raisin or other dried fruit qualities on the back end I have difficulty pinpointing. Cranberries?

Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated, otherwise thick. Not astringent by my estimation.

Drinkability: A year on this does it wonders. I think I'm converted - not to Stone, but to their RIS.

Photo of ccrida
3.27/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

"Limited Spring 2007 Release" - a new bottle.
Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a snifter, the Stone RIS is absolutely jet back, with a medium sized burnt tan head that quickly faded to a thick collar with mild skim, leaving only the slightest lace. Served at cellar temp.
The aroma is rich and deep, toasted malt and sweet, with caramel, cinnamon, anise, vanilla and coffee. And lots of alcohol!
The taste, whoa is it rich! Sadly, not nearly as deep as the aroma - I'm hoping that will drastically change for the better with time. Very roasted and boozy, not nearly as sweet as the aroma, lots of bittersweet chocolate that fades to a pure alcohol finish. Holy hobo breath!
The mouthfeel is heavy and a bit oily, with a slight creaminess
This is not to drinkable right now. For one, it tastes way to boozy. Two, it is boozy! 10.8% ABV, how many of these do you think you can drink in one sitting? Rather then try to find out, why don't you just stash some for a while, and then savor one or two on occasion. As they so altruistically suggest on their label, "We recommend getting a case (of our expensive most expensive beer!) and opening a bottle every 3 to 6 months to enjoy it's journey." I opted for four, and will probably have 1 a year or so. As I often feel about young RISs, this was nothing that will have me clamoring to break into my stash earlier then I should. With certain barelywines though, that's a whole other story!

Photo of BeerTruth
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured 22 oz. bottle into a nonic.

Dark khaki colored head with tiny bubbles all around the glass. Pours completely black motor oil. This stout is so thick, that the bubbles struggle to move. Head dies down fairly quick but some stickiness remains here and there throughout. Smell is of roasted coffee/nuts with a molasses/brown sugar scent that tingles the nose a bit. Alcohol is a bit there as well, but not overpowering by any means. Taste, mmmMMM!!! Thick malty goodness dominates this amazing brew. Very mild hints of hops, but just enough to balance this one out just about perfectly. As this warms, it seems to become a bit sweeter with a more powerful roasted caramel presence. So smooth, so flavorful, so well balanced for a 10.8% abv. Such a great job done by Stone once again. I can't wait to age my case and see what time will do to this well crafted brew.

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

pours a rich dark black color with a creamy tan colored head. Smells a bit of alcohol, green apple, and deep roasted malts have a bit of sinus issues now so hard to smell too much. Taste starts with dark chocolates, transfers to a nutty mid, and finishes with a coffee/alcohol bite masked by piney hops. Alcohol leaves a bit of a sour-ish aftertaste that lingers, along with the warming feeling :-D. A great full balanced brew that is definetely worth a try, I could definetely drink this one again.

Ok my second bottle, I had at room temperature, and this stout has got to be one of the most balanced brews that I have had. The taste of this brew at room temp was much better, so do not refridgerate this one, the aftertaste was well disminished and the alcohol taste was not noticeable at all. I will be definetely buying a few more of these before they disappear.

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

2007 22 oz bottle.

Black and robust, lightly carbonated and syrup-thick. The nose is all roasted barley and molasses. 10.8% alcohol is alarmingly well-hidden here, especially for a bottle with little age to it. Dark roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and burnt toast entangle (but never overwhelm) the palate, with a long finish of black licorice and mild hops. Perfectly smooth and drinkable, I find it difficult to fault this beer in any way. One of the very best Russian Imperial Stouts available today.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,403 ratings.