Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,296 Ratings

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Ratings: 7,296
Reviews: 2,602
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.45%
Wants: 592
Gots: 1,643 | FT: 94
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,296 | Reviews: 2,602 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AlFergie
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the best imperial stout I have ever had. And I've had lots of 'em! The only reason I gave it a 4.5 for drinkability is the high alcohol content. You simply can't drink as much as you would like to! The last time I had this was from a bottle, but before that was on tap, and if possible, it may have been even better on tap.

Photo of kosmoraios
3.15/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Woah. Trying to review for the style here...

Pours black as night into my pint glass. Tan head lasts for a minute or so.

Aroma is of roasted malt, coffee, dark caramel, pumpernickel bread and alcohol.

Taste is of chocolate, coffee, alcohol. There is a dark, almost burnt malty taste to this ale. Alcohol is very prevalent as it warms. Pretty agressive and bitter. There is some sweetness that offsets this at first, but as the ale warms, it starts to become a challenge to drink.

Mouthfeel is chewy, oily. Not a very drinkable ale, unless it's 20 below outside with freezing snow blowing sideways.

Photo of stephendr
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thick India ink color- anisette and alcohol present in the nose – thick chewy body- spicy, toffee, coffee, and citrus taste- long sweet aftertasteThick India ink color- anisette and alcohol present in the nose – thick chewy body- spicy, toffee, coffee, and citrus taste- long sweet aftertasteThick India ink color- anisette and alcohol present in the nose – thick chewy body- spicy, toffee, coffee, and citrus taste- long sweet aftertaste

Photo of Higravity
3.58/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 Spring Release. Pours dark as hell with a nice top of chocolate foam. Smells of roast alcohol with a sweetness and earth spice. Taste is pretty right on with the smell but the alcohol pops out a little too much in the finish. The body was good for a ~11% beer and was good for the style. The 22 went down very easy and if it was sold in the area for a reasonable price I would have another. Thanks Indybeer.

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

This is nothing short of an incredible Imperial. I've been reading about it for quite some time and finally had the fortune of grabbing two 22 oz. bottles from my local shop. My only regret is that I didn't buy the entire stock. It pours a very thick and leaves a lovely mocha colored lace across the top. Unlike some of the Imperials I've had lately, this one is B-L-A-C-K ... tar black, with a tinge of chocolate brown towards the top of the glass just below it's mocha head. Some have mentioned that carbonation cannot be seen ... it's because this baby is like a lunar eclipse ... no light is getting through this one.
It's notes are of coffee, toffee, chocolate, and a smooth tinge of alcohol to round out its robust finish. It's malty alright ... but not overpoweringly sweet. Some may be dismayed when they hear coffee, but this one was even enjoyed by my coffee hating buddy.
Though opaque in color, the alcohol and malts give this a smooth finish with a hint of sweetness. It warms the palate and fills the mouth with a myriad of flavors ... each complementing the other ... no one true flavor coming through unlike some of the Imperials I've tried that seem to have one defining note.
The mouthfeel is smooth with a light carbonation. It wraps itself around your tongue and holds on for dear life. The taste lingers even after you have had your last sip.
This was incredible. I'm really ticked that I didn't buy more since it's such a phenomenal beer. I'm hanging on to my second one for next winter as I've heard this baby only gets better with age. If you find the 2006, grab it fast. It's definitely worth it!

Photo of yemenmocha
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours nearly opaque black. Not much lightpasses through. Nose has baker's chocolate with 3 musketeers bar candy aromas. Reminds me of hot cocoa on Christmas morning as a child.

Big chocolate is present on the palate as well, but is more dark chocolate than milk chocolate. Malt is still there to round it out, nice and roasty, hops in there (though more tame in my aged bottles now), and it has a seamless integration of these components. Balance.

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

Anyway you look at it, just a solid stout. I'm very happy to have these readily available in the area, and whenever a chance, I add more of them to my cellar.
Pours a very dark, thick, black with a slight head. Smells of coffee and alchohol. The taste is pretty complex. Lots of flavors are picked up throughout the drink. A nice coffee flavor is dominating at first,then the thick chocolatey taste takes over. You get a nice roasted coffee and alcohol taste with this drink. It is pretty "heavy" on the palate. This is a huge stout. One of my favs, would hightly recommend.

Photo of MrHolland
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

WOW, this is a excellent beer.
Poured from a bomber to a snifter and is a pitch black with a small dark brown head that does not leave much lacing.

Smell is very sweet and alcoholy with some chocolate hint through out.

Taste- Pretty malty with hint of chocolate, licorice, and dark currents is very prevalent. Cannot taste the alcohol at all and is very decieving if you drink quick. Awesome beer!!

Mouthfeel is silky smooth with very little carbonation.

Drinkability - not a session beer but drinkable and very good.

Photo of Estarrio
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

While I have been enjoying Stone brews for some time, this particular offering had been eluding me. I finally procured a 750 ml bottle labeled "spring 2006 limited release". This exceptional beer defines for me why I love Stone brews. While I love Stone for their IPA's and American Strong Ales, they seem to excel in every beer genre that they attempt.

This poured viscous pitch-black oil with a medium coffee colored head. Retention was moderate and intricate lacings remained throughout. The smell is roasted malt, buttery toffee, sugar and a hint of burnt caramel.

The flavor is an incredible balance of molasses, roasted and burnt malt, chocolate, honey and sweet plum. The first tastes are sweet, quickly balanced by a subtle hint of bitter hops and then followed by a sweet, roasty aftertaste. The warm alcohol presence is apparent, but one would hardly guess 10.8% as the strength is well masked.

The palate is pleasingly thick, viscous syrup with moderate carbonation lending to a creamy, drinkable consistency that begs to be sipped all night long. This is a nice contrast to some comparable examples of the style that seem to fill me up very quickly.

Kudos to Stone on creating what I consider to be the best Imperial Stout that I've tried. They continue to exceed my expectations.

Photo of danielocean03
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bomber marked "Limited Spring 2006 Release". Pours an opaque obsidian black with a thin finger mocha-beige head that slowly fades to light sticky lacing that coats the glass. Aroma is rich with a coffee roastiness, sweet malts, alcohol, bitter unsweetened chocolate. Taste is even richer than the nose lets on, hitting straight off the bat with an enormous malty sweetness that turns to roasty malt and coffee before leading off into the rich chocolate and alcohol finish. Leaves a slightly dry aftertaste, dry bitter roastiness paired with some warm alcohol. Mouthfeel is heavy and thick, viscosity similar to used motor oil, slick and slippery on the tongue. Lower levels of carbonation, pairs well with the characteristics of the beer. Drinkability is excellent despite the higher abv, which is hidden well, only hinted at slightly in the nose and in the aftertaste. Rock solid beer, very good and true to the style, satisfying and indulgent. Perfect relaxing finish to a long day in the summer heat.

Photo of dwarvenspirits
2.42/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

This was the 2005 limited early summer release editon of this beer.

KAA-POW! That's the first thing that came to my mind, then "WOW!" This beer is a one beer per night drink. Definitely sip this monster beer because it's so thick and syrupy that you can only sip it. The worst part about this beer was the overpowering taste of alcohol. You can smell it when you pour it when you drink it, even when it's just sitting there. This definitely needs another year or two to age just to mellow out the alcohol in it. The color is rich and black and there is a roasted smell with the complements of coffee. The flavor is chocolate, at least what I could tell throught the hot alcohol flavor. Drinking this beer is like putting vodka in a stout and ruining the flavors of the stout. And I also think this definitely needs more hops added to it for bitterness just to balance out the sweet malty taste of it and the incredible alcohol flavor. I was really disappointed with this beer. The Stone Ruination IPA was fantastic but this RIS is horrible.

Photo of cbl2
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

7/30/2005 $5.00 22 oz. 10.80% Limited Early Summer 2005 Release.


Pours a thick inky black with fine carbonation leading to a very thin dark tan head that settles rapidly, and laces the glass.


Chocolate and licorices come to mind with sweet marshmallow undertones and a touch of spicy chicory root as well as some soy/worchestershire sauce.


Extremely full bodied and complex, with some burnt coffee grounds up front coupled with an intense chocolate sweetness. A little harsh midsip, showing it's youth. This will age wonderfully. Plum like chewiness towards the end, excellent ripe fruit characteristics.

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

Poured a deep, dark, and totally opaque black, with a small but frothy and loose dark tan head.

The aroma is a very interesting mix of licorice, coffee, chocolate, and roast malts, with subtle hints of black currant and citrusy hops sneaking in as well. This may be the most complex smelling beer I've ever experienced. I had to sniff for awhile, leave it, come back and try it again in a cycle that repeated at least three times. Each time, I think I picked up something that wasn't there the time previously. There's a whole lot going on in here. After smelling it, I can't wait to taste it, and isn't that what a beer's aroma is supposed to be all about?

As complex as the aroma is, it doesn't hold a candle to the multitude of tastes that hit your tongue on first sip. This is simply a "wow" experience. There are flavors of chicory, dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, dark berries, roasted malts, black licorice... just amazing. Even more amazing is the fact these tastes don't come at you in succession. Rather, they all jump out at you right up front, with the "hey look at me" attitude of a child in a talent show, and they don't let up until the end. Even then, those tastes only seem to finally be subdued by the long, lingering bitterness that goes on and on. This is just an amazing flavor, if I can use the word "amazing" again. The only thing that kept me from giving this a perfect "5" in the taste department was the very prevalent alcohol. That will no doubt meld into the rest of the flavors with age. Unfortunately, I'm out of this brew, and it's a tough trick for me to get more here in Kansas.

The mouthfeel to this one is thick, rich, and given it's a RIS, wonderfully appropriate.

Overall, this is a great beer. It's not a guzzler, by any means, and anyone calling this a session beer is a liar. But for what it is, it's done extremely well. I wish I had bought more, so I could cellar this and see how it changes over the course of a year or so. Strongly recommended.

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

This has to be the best beer I have ever tasted. When you pour the stuff out into the glass, you are thinking, motor oil. It has a dark head that goes away quickly. The smells hit your nose and the flavors are many and pronounced.
This was a 2005 bottle and I understand that it needs a year or two to gain its full potential. Liked it so much I bought a case of the 2006. Stone has some great beers and this one has to be the better of the batch.

Photo of stodbrew
3.63/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into the glass a rich, dark black color. No light getting through this beer. Had a briefly lasting tan head that settled to a pretty thin cap in no time at all.

Aroma is of chocolate, roastiness, some coffee, licorice and a fair amount of soy sauce.

Taste is of more of the same as the aroma. A bit on the sweet side, with a fair amount of alcohol heat coming through. More soy sauce, as well.

Mouthfeel is great, however. Its full and well rounded.

Overall, I've not been terribly impressed with this beer. Its good, and I'll drink another after it has some age on it, but not really among my favorites.

Photo of FlyFisher2782
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours very dark but I couldn't get much head out of the initial pour.

This is without a doubt the heaviest brew I have ever consumed. It pours like a milkshake.

The malts are toasted to peak darkness but there is no burnt or smoky flavor here, pure dark coffee and chocolates come through while entering a slight bit of fruitiness before the slightly spicy finish.

When I first poured it, I could smell the heavy alcohol content, but drinking it revealed its true prowess... this is a SMOOTH brew, it does not drink like a 10+ % alcohol beer at all... in fact I could barely discern any alcohol.
Ridiculously drinkable. Smooth. A very filling Brew.

Another job well done by Stone Brewing.

Photo of mcarroll10177
3.08/5  rDev -29%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into an imperial pint glass

A- black as night with a tan head, light carbination and some nice lacing of the glass

S- very nice coffee malt alcohol, wioth some chocolate undertones

T- far far out of whack, too young needs some years under the belt. Some malt then big overpowing alcohol. Burns a bit going down, warms you up. But a wiskey like burn from a stout, not a good thing

M- balanced feels like a stout, again to much alcohol

D- unfinishable, way to much alcohol in the mouth for this beer to be anyway near refreshing. Some complexity sure but the heavy alcohol taste takes over.

Notes- this is the second of stone's offerings I have tried (VE 6 06.06) in recent days. Both seem to have tons of potential with age, but are to overpowering young. If I buy stone again it will be years before i drink it.

Big and bold, but to much of a good thing

Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Alright, at this point we're hanging on by a thread. The line-up of the Madison Big Stout Session has been insane but we've got one to go on courtesy of DaPeculierDane. Deep breath...and here we go.

Pour: Black hole black, nothing escapes under a minimal skim of coffee cream head.

Nose: oatmeal grain/malt, milk chocolate, lactose and caramel sugar.

Taste: Coffee, toffee, vanilla/caramel cream, bittersweet chocolate, a bit of lactose milkiness and booze in the finish.

Feel: boozy thin to medium body, smooth, smooth, smooth

Drinkability/Overall: Mad drinkable for almost 11%, impeccable balance between sweet caramels and toffees and bitter coffees and chocolates and grainy malts. A great cap on a knockdown, dragout night of extreme beer drinking. Cheers, boys.

Photo of expatsteve
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a great beer for review 100 - thanks to DaPeculierDane for this one...

Appearance: Black, with a 1/2 inch cappucino head. Doesn't leave much by way of lacing. Medium viscosity.

Aroma: Spectacular nose - chocolate, with port notes, raisins, blood plums and green apple skins. A little molasses.

Taste: Wonderfully understated for the style and the level of complexity. Mild chocolate, with cocoa, lactic sours. A little booze on the tongue, but balanced by back palate nuttiness until the slightly vegetal aftertaste. Fruit developments, predominantly raisins, with bursts of brown sugar. Simply fantastic.

Mouthfeel: Smooth in the mouth with a wonderfully dry finish. Low, constant carbonation.

Drinkability: Spectacular - completely drinkable despite a heavy complex flavor and a high ABV. Body carries this brilliantly. One hell of a beer - fantastic whether judged according to style, to flavor, or to sheer drinkability. Thanks again, Dane, for one of the nicest beers I've tasted.

Photo of MLegendre
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Jet black and very thick, can't see through the glass whatsoever. Unfortunatly even with a hard pour I could only get a very thin tan head that disapeared as soon as it appeared. Very little lacing.

S: Very strong smell of dark fruits and hints of roasted malt and soy sause. The sweet fruit smell is dominant.

T: The super sweet malt hits first reminding me a bit of North Coast's Old Stock, then comes roasted espresso like flavors in the finish. Aftertate is bitter like coffee. Alcohol is present but not overpowering. I was hoping that the roasted flavors would be more dominant then they were.

M: Very thick and creamy. More carbonation than I thought there would be (a good thing). Goes down very smooth for something so heavy.

D: Though it was very good, it's not something I could drink horribly often, but something I would love to have again. This is definitly a sipper, I even shared my 22 and still had a hard time finishing it. Not because I didn't like it, but because it's so rich and heavy. a bomber of this goes a long way.

Photo of veggiemafia
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've reviewed the 04 and 05 previously, so this is my most-reviewed beer. Charting the differences has been kind of fun.

Appearance is similar to both of the previous years, if I remember. Jet freakin' black with a substantial tan head and good retention for the style.

Smell is extremely fruity, plums and raisins, with a good amount of espresso in there, as well. Quite boozy when the beer is this young, though, which is why it didn't get a 4.5 or 5.

Taste is more of the same, with a fairly hot alcohol presence. Still very nice, with an intense sweetness that's balanced with an earthy hop and a dark roast coffee/espresso.

Mouthfeel is velvety, creamy and luscious.

Drinkability kind of suffers because of the alcohol hotness and the overall booziness of this one. Still not nearly as boozy as Weyerbacher Heresy, and Heresy is only 8% abv.

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

An onyx brew that sucks everything else in the room away and leaves you purely focused on the beer and nothing but the beer. The smell then leaves you begging to taste what you know you are expecting. You are smelling the expectation of something so dark, so smooth so rich, yet so mellow that you could swill this stuff down faster than water itself. You finally take a swig and it tastes like a full compliment of laughing licorice soldiers with ginger helmets and their complimentary cavalry of mellow spice horses thundering across the plains of your tounge, You are forced to put more in your mouth uncontrollably. Once you begin to consume you will not wish to stop. Most excellent.

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

Summer 2005 Release served at between fridge and cellar temperature.

Appearance- Pours a dark brown viscous liquid with ruby highlights... absolutely stunning color. Thick even on the eyes, the tan head emerges and peaks at almost two fingers. Bubbles randomly pop and fizzle into submission over several minutes.

Smell- A generous, full aroma showcases chocolate, some molasses, and black currants quite well. Heavy and really, really huge... the fruit notes here are much more pronounced compared to every other beer of this style I've tried... save for Dark Lord last year. Awesome and damn impressive.

Taste- Rich, fruity notes of black currants blend seamlessly with the roasty character of chocolate and coffee. The alcohol presence is felt not only in the warmth throughout the body, but certainly in the back end of the tongue during and after the swallow. Bold and decadent... a gargantuan example of a RIS.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Thick and creamy in the mouth... the carbonation is rightfully downplayed in favor of a smooth, slick, viscous experience. I'm savoring each sip, this will take you down if you're not careful. Great beer.

Photo of mithrascruor
3.63/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours an extremely dark brown/black color, and seems like you're pouring chocolate sauce. Looks completely black in the glass and has a small tannish-brown head that turns into a film fairly quick.

Smell: Has most all the smells that you might find in a dark beer: roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, molasses, etc. The overall smell is a bit like a mocha. Maybe a tad overkill, though.

Taste: Very heavy on the malts, with the coffee and chocolate kicking in shortly thereafter. The alcohol is rather apparent at times as well. Somewhat bitter in the aftertaste -- more of a coffee bitterness than a hoppy one.

Mouthfeel: Heavy-bodied and very smooth, with a light bit of tingling. Light burning of alcohol too.

Drinkability: Very high alcohol content (which I don't personally find bothersome), but it's the distinct taste of the alcohol makes it difficult to drink.

One of the better beers I've tried from Stone Brewing Co. This one is over the top as usual, but not as much as the others. The flavor itself is quite good, but it seems as if they dumped some grain alcohol in during bottling. I like to feel alcohol in a beer, but not taste it. This has the distinct taste of hard alcohol -- while I don't mind the taste & feel, I personally don't think that it belongs in a beer. An interesting beer with some major strong points and worth trying, but overall... a novelty.

Photo of badbeer
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Edition, poured into my Tripel Karmeliet chalice.

Black color, dark brown head that quickly dissipated, I didn't get the head the picture shows, but maybe my glass was dirty. Smell is very nice. Full of chocolate, dark fruit, piney hops, coffee, and I think some oak was present. Taste doesn't let down either, chocolate in the beginning, coffee stepping in before a dry vanilla oak finish. Mouthfeel had great carbonation and was full bodied, heavy on the tongue. Very good beer, I wish I had easier access to it, but it's worth seeking.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,296 ratings.