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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

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7,405 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,405
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: 7,405 | Reviews: 2,620 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of penguinjive7
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night with a thumbs worth of tan head with little retention or lacing until swriled around a bit.

Smell is of dark roast coffee, a bit of molasses, and dark chocolate.

The molasses hits the tongue right away immediately followed by the dark roasted coffee. The chocolate then splits through and blends with what seems to be a slight dark fruit flavor, possibly prunes or dates. All of these swirl together in a nice creamy finish. The alcohol is very well masked.

The mouth feel is nice and viscous. The carbonation is balanced perfectly. Just where it all should be for the style.

For a mighty RIS, this one is extremely drinkable. The description on the bottle does it justice. An exquisite brew!

Photo of Minkybut
3.44/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this big beer from the bottle to a 50 degree tumbler. Very black beer with a tan head that did not stay around long. Smokey smell and taste with roasted malts and burnt peat overtones. A very complex brew in my opinion. Very high alcohole and I thought a bit of a burn on the after gulp. Interesting brew that if you like super heavy brews you should try. A bit tight for me and I do noth hink I will buy again.

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

22 oz. bottle to snifter.

oh. my. word.
pours a viscious black with a dark-tan head - thick, frightening, demanding to be brought closer... nose is out of this world, unbelievable, and like nothing i've ever smelt in a beer, and i fear i won't do it justice with my inadequate discriptors, but here's to trying, anyway: sweet, deep, black molasses, anise, roasted-to-the-point-of-smokiness malts, baking chocolate, sumatran coffee grounds, etc. etc. etc. and now (drum roll) the taste: again i have never, ever tasted anything like this before - my roommate dubbed it an "experience." initially, while still cold, i was overpowered by the smoky, almost iron-like dominating flavours that, for some reason, made me think of beef jerky, but that was only momentarily. as the beer warmed in my hands it unleashed wave after wave of dark chocolate, licorice, bourbon, residually smoky, and, who'da thunk... slightly hoppy! go stone! sticky, thick, wonderfully slow-coating mouthfeel. i could drink this forever if it wasn't for the high, yet dangerously well masked, ABV.


Photo of xgabe
4.71/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(2007 spring release, 22 oz. bottle)

Appearance: Black, with slight hint of reds at millimeters from edges when tilted. Nice head which dissipates after a few minutes.

Smell: Malt is a dominant attribute in the nose. More chocolate than espresso IMO.

Mouthfeel: Thick, baby... all thick... man, like the bottle states, all Siberian crude. Oh hell yeah. The CO2 is just right, not too harsh at all, but present.

Taste: The malt flavor which I usually don't like in a beer is incredibly enjoyable. I get these hints of spice that just peek out enough to let you know they're there, yet do not dominate, letting your palate explore the malt complexities. Alcohol in amounts that warm you just right, rather than turning abrassive.

Drinkability: I'd say HELL YES it's drinkable. Tops in it's field. No question.

All in all, follow the bottle's suggestion: get a case, store it away and open a bottle every 3 to 6 months to enjoy its travel through complexities. You will NOT be disappointed.


Photo of russpowell
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 version; slightly better than last years

Pours mahogany/jet black with 3 fingers of mocha head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Coccoa & toasted grains; fades as this warms

T: Chocoalte, troasted grain, & a wee bit of iron. Smokeyness follows as this warms along with baker's choclate, & little warming feel. Mocha milk shake, warming notes, roastyness, & dryness are all in the finish.

MF: Rich with great balance & minimal carbonation

Good drinker as long as you don't mind an early night! Great dessert beer & maybe one to session on your tolerance is built up; just kidding!

Photo of jletts
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2004 Imperial Russian Stout on tap at the Stone Brewery.

On this day they had the Imperial Russian Stout on tap from 2004, 2006, and 2007. I was fortunate enough to be able to taste the 2003 IRS the previous week, but they had just run out when I arrived today. They were also offering a 2005 IRS for growler fills only in the gift shop. The 2004 stout poured black with a creamy thick yellow-brown head and smelled of roasted brown sugar, alcohol, and dark chocolate. The taste was a little metallic up front, with notes of bitter dark chocolate, cocoa, black cherries, and woody hop. The beer finished roasty, with a powdery-cocoa, peppery tongue-numbing, and slightly syrupy medicinal finish. Despite finishing every last drop of the beer, the inside of the glass remained stained with a thick brown sugary glazing clinging all the way to the rim. A mellow-smooth relaxing buzz emanated from the 10+% ABV. I enjoyed a second 2004 IRS after brunch paired with the espresso drizzled cardamom coffee cake. Spectacular.

Photo of cueball52
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It pours a deep chocolate brown with a small light brown head that quickly dissipates to a brown ring around the top of the glass.
The aroma is a sweet medicinal smell.
The taste is dark roasted malt with hints of molasses, black licorice, burnt chocolate, coffee, finishing with an alcohol bite.
It has a full, oily mouth feel with very slight carbonation.
Very enjoyable and very drinkable.

Photo of blitheringidiot
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 Release. 10.8% ABV.

Gluggy pour is thick as black molasses with no light escaping topped with a frothy thick bubbled beige head cap settled to a coating.

Nose is a thick balance of pancake molasses nose and ever so slight bubble gum cherry.

First swigs: Roasted malt with cherry hints. Boozy stout with some cocoa and maple syrup. Buttery pancakes with syrup. Thick chewy bread dough notes that are not quite coffee but in a coffee sort of arena. More like rum and coffee. Half way through the warming, a bit of waffle creeps into the flavor, with Turbinado sugar.

Feel is so hop fronted that the malt balance needs a minute to catch up. Overall, this is a huge balance of bubble gum and roasted malt.

Last swigs: Much more flavorful than last year. Ya know what's funny? This is the best Stone RIS year yet.

Beer is good. Happy evil beering.

Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.95/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle of 2007, drank at the same time as the 2006. Poured into a 0.5L Duvel tulip.

A: Still black and opaque, just the way I like my beer. Dark mocha head, with more staying power than the 06; the lacing is better too.

S: Not as strong or as sweet as the 06, but still amazing. Dark malts, but also more of a burnt wood smell.

T: Again, not as sweet. I think the 06 is more suited to sipping like the aged beer it is. I like this better for normal drinking. The same amazing complexity, but a bit more subtle, with slightly better flavor.

M: Not quite as thick as the 06, but better slightly carbonation.

D: Just as drinkable as the 06, maybe slightly better because there is less sweetness.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the 07 slightly more. Both are great, but the 06 is more suited to sipping.

Drinking both the 06 and 07 at the same time was a wonderful experiment, as it allowed me to see exactly how it aged.

Photo of cooncat
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Serving from a 2006 vintage 22 oz. bomber. Shared with a friend, and decanted into a couple of Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip crystal glasses as shown in the picture to the right of the description.

WOW ... how to begin. This is as close as I've come to ever giving a 5 to any beer, and the only reason I didn't is because with the high ABV, you might be well advised to drink this with respect and responsibility.

The pour easily produced two full Stone IRS tulip glasses with massive heads. Color is .. well ... opaque. Like looking into the depths of the dark eyes of a beautiful mediterranean woman. I'm in love!

The nose .. how shall I compare thee? So full .. so complex .. so indescribable. A malty mixture of licorice, chocolate, dark fruits with a hint of the alcoholic strength in the background, which isn't distracting .. it really adds to the experience. My nose was so overwhelmed with the maltiness that I couldn't pick up on any hops.

The taste follows the nose, only to a higher plane of existence. The mouthfeel could not be more full. The sweet maltiness cannot be improved upon. It is NOT cloying, just so richly satisfying, like allowing a piece of the finest 70% chocolate to slowly dissolve on your tongue. The taste is so complex and full of subtle nuances that words alone cannot convey its remarkable flavor. Definitely a 5 in my book. The finish goes on and on and on, and on .. like the Energizer Bunny. The considerable ABV warms you and puts your entire body at ease.

Easily the best Imperial Russian Stout I've ever had. My favorite used to be Victory's Storm King, but even the "King" will have to bow to this formidable offering from Stone.

Very highly recommended. If you like Imperial Stouts, you simply cannot afford to miss this one.


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

2007 vintage:
A- About a 1 1/2" mocha head on a pure black body.
S- Coffee, chocolate, and roasted malts all blended together with a big dose of grass hops in there also. Chocolate comes through clean and the roasted and coffee and mixed together in the back ground.
T- Big robust chocolate flavor in intial taste and in aftertaste. The hops balance this out very well and leave a nice big bitterness on the tongue (mixed in with the chocolate). Alcohol comes through and tingles the tongue and the warms the back of your throat very nicely. Light roasted malt and coffee flavors in the background of the up front chocolate. Very nice!
M- Maybe a tad to high on the carbonation (would like a smoother palate on it). Big full body though with low to medium carbonation.
D- This is a great beer. I wish I would of liked stouts this much when they came out last year. This will be up there for one of my favorite stouts (along with Siberian Night, Storm King, Dark Lord, and Bourbon County Stout).

Photo of greenbeaner
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Leave it to Stone to brew an RIS with some balls and then some!

Rich and dark dark brown, this one pours a thick two-finger head, dark tan and speckled with dark bubbles....Notice how I keep using the word dark...it's because it is. Very good looking beer.

Smells of vanilla, sweet chocolate maltiness and hops...Scent is about the only thing subtle about this beer.

Tastes of vanilla, with a strong chocolate flavor up front, malt, spice, slightest hint of cinnamon maybe? Finishes with a strong hoppy bitterness and a strong burn of alcohol...yessss....

Fells great in the mouth, thick, creamy, sticky and lingering. A very chewy beer. Basically this one is dinner in a bottle, although while drinking it I've found it to go fantastic with some smoked honey ham. Well balanced all throughout.

This is a very tasty beer indeed. An exceptional RIS with the boldness one can expect from Stone. Drinkability is only limited by it's strength, which personally I chose to fully embrace!

Photo of jamie2dope
3.55/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was really excited to see this one at the store lately, as I havent had a fresh sample of this beer in a while. This is the 07 release. I love the 05 and 06 bottles, which I have quite a few of. This one pours a dark brown/not quite jet black coloration with a brown tan head. In the nose was faint alcohol, powdered cocoa and a definite burnt character. Taste started off with burnt coffee, but as it warmed up a bit more of chocolate showed up. Mouthfeel was heavy, but not too big on the alcohol despite the presence of it in the aroma. One bomber of this was more then enough for me. I have to say that im a bit disappointed by this release, as it is not as good IMO as the 05 or 06. Maybe a little ageing will complement this beer. Either way it is better then 90% of the stouts out there. Check it out regardless. Cheers

Photo of JimsArcade
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Spring 07 Release...

A: Black as dark-roast coffee. A hard pour into a snifter produced only a minimal brown-colored head.

S: The aroma of dark-chocolate-covered cherry cordials dominates the nose. No evidience of hops in the aroma: just malts and alcohol.

T: Bitter chocolate, espresso, molasses and alcohol. The flavors are almost overwhelming. It almost feels as if my other senses become muted as my brain tries to deal with the intense flavors.

M: It's thick... almost syrupy. Carbonation is minimal (as suggested by the minimal head after a hard pour).

D: A treat to drink, but having more than one would be difficult. (Not the least of which would be the ability to function after drinking more than one bottle of this 10.8% brew.) The beer is so thick that a lighter-bodied beer (i.e., about 99% of the world's beers) needs to follow to give the palate a rest.

Stone's RIS is one of my new favorites in the category. Proceed with caution, though.

Photo of Stoneman78
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 2007 release. . .

A- Pours a straight black hue; small, creamy dark brown head that mostly dissipates, good lacing that only slightly sticks to the glass
S- Chocolate and coffee aroma; strong molasses and roasted malts; fairly stiff alcohol presence; subtle anise and fruit tones
T- Roasted coffee taste dominates throughout, hints of chocolate and sweet molasses, some bitter hops and alcohol in the short finish
M- Very full-bodied stout, creamy and thick texture with soft carbonation
D- Complex yet balanced IRS, easily drinkable given the ~11%abv yet I wouldn't drink more than a few in one sitting, another great release from my favorite brewery that I would highly recommend trying (this coming from someone who hates coffee); falls just short of my current favorite IRS (North Coast Old Rasputin)

Photo of Murchmac
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 bottle: Pours a motor oil black, just not as thick. Smells like it reving high and ready to go. Big mouth, lots of flavors and horsepower, with sharp aftertaste. Will mellow nicely, right now, it's a hot rod. Very good beer, if you can get it, buy it and drink it.

2008 bottle: Its been a year since drinking the last one so hear goes.

Pours a beautiful syrupy opaque black, with a big brown head

Smells of roasted coffee, deep malts, toffee? Smells fantastic, some peppery smell which I think is the hops.

Tastes fantastic! This one will age well. Sweet dark sugars, alcohol.

Lingering sweet aftertaste that coats your mouth and gives you a lugie.

Get one for now, two for later.

Photo of Erdinger2003
2.2/5  rDev -49.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2006, cellared for one year. In proper storage conditions.

This beer pours out a good head, soft and tan/brown. The color is dark brown with a black color in the middle. The head falls very fast and leaves a slight lacing. The smell is boozy and harsh with some off flavors, I have had these off flavors before I just can't put my finger on it. The taste is slightly roasty, alcohol presence is noticable. Their are off flavors again. Mouthfeel isn't very good, it leaves my mouth dry and want of more, not more of the beer, but something. Overall, this was a bad experience. If the 2007 is like this I will not buy this again.

Photo of guinness72384
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a 22oz bomber today at the local Table and Vine.

Served in a standard pint glass. Pours jet black with a nice 1.5 inch dark tan head with excelent lacing. Strong aromas of chocolate and esspresso, very malty. The taste is glorious, roasted malts and esspresso with hints of chocolate. Very smooth to the palate, suprisingly smooth for the alcohol level. Definately a highly drinkable beer. I am very impressed. Great work Stone Brewing Co.

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

Spring 2007 release.
I love waiting a year to review this....it is always a wonderous surprise and like tasting it for the first time, each time.
Again, pours very black...Head is more massive than in the past...thick, craggy, two finger tan head that melts to something very sticky.
Aroma is slightly disappointing...some chocolate, some coffee, a little stale cardboard. <sigh>
No...wait...that isn't cardboard...no...that isn't anything offensive...it's something very interesting and allusive....it's the burnt malts with coffee and chocolate blending with citrus hops at the end and a touch of smoke.
This is nice.
Taste is yummy dark espresso coffee with a bit of chocolate that turns to more chocolate than espresso...again, some smokiness and a touch of drying citrus hops on the end.
Nice warming alcohol while the taste leaves your mouth and you are left 'breathing' chocolates and alcohol.
I seem to love this every year.
I bought a case so I will re-evaluate this many times and may change some of what I have here for first impressions.

Photo of jaxon53
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2007 release.
Served at cellar temperature in a snifter from a twenty-two ounce bottle. Poured a very intense , shiny jet black color. Some brown highlights when held up to the light. Two fingers of very thick, creamy, mocha brown head formed. Retention was very good lasting almost to the end with plenty of thick lace. Smelled strongly of roasted/toasted malt, sweet dark chocolate, with strong bitter aromas of coffee with just a small alcohol presence. Tasted of chocolate and fresh coffee up front, with a little caramel, more chocolate , and a short bitter hop bite in the middle. Finished with coffee and warming alcohol. Overall pretty smooth and the flavors compliment eachother well. Mouthfeel was full bodied, thick, almost chewy and a little heavy. Just how I like my RIS.Very drinkable , but at almost 11% abv. this one might bite back. Also a little young in my opinion. I'll definitely lay a few down.

Photo of prototypic
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 Release

Appearance: Pours a nearly jet black color with a very thick and creamy two finger head. Great retention and lacing. Very good looking beer.

Smell: Wow. Where do I begin? Very complex blend of espresso, dark chocolate, and toasted nuts. Stick with it a little longer and there's scents of dark fruits and caramel. Nice malt presence. Alcohol is actually coming through a bit as well.

Taste: The chocolate and espresso seem to come through very strong initially. Definitely has a smoky, toasted nut flavor. Dark fruit flavors emerge after the initial blast of chocolate and coffee. Alcohol is blended pretty well, but one can still pick up a bit of the taste.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's pretty thick and creamy, but very smooth. At nearly 11%, drinkability is somewhat limited. One bomber is enough for me in a sitting. But, don't get me wrong, it's very easy to drink. Overall, this is a fantastic imperial stout. Easily one of the best I've tried. Classic Stone brew. In my opinion, it has every ounce of arrogant character one would expect from Stone. Highly recommended.

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

22oz. bottle - 2005 release

Pours a viscous black liquid with a small mocha head that disappears. Sparse speckled lacing on the glass.

Rich blended aroma of roasted malts, espresso, dark cocoa. It's hard to differentiate the aromas, they are very equally distributed.

Rich, sweet roasted malt flavor that absolutely melts into equal parts espresso and German dark chocolate. Very slight bitterness as it finishes sweet with a perfect blend of flavors.

Rich, creamy body. Mild carbonation.

I seldom find that the hype matches the beer, but this beer truly deserves all the accolades it receives. It is a real pleasure to drink such an expertly crafted brew. From reading reviews of fresh bottles, I would assume that letting this sit for 2 years has been key in allowing this to properly mature. Patience is indeed a virtue.

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.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,405 ratings.