Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing Co.

2,708 Reviews
For Trade:
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,708 | Ratings: 8,164
Photo of Naes
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is one black beer with a decent tan head.
Its aroma is roasty, chocolaty and has a definite alcohol presence.
Upon the first sip, alcohol is the first thing to register followed by the chocolate, coffee and roastiness. This is defiantly a big beer.
Full bodied and lightly carbonated.
This is a sipper for sure, as the size of the beer in combination with its alcohol content will certainly catch up with you.
The warmer this brew gets, the better it tastes.
Another bombshell by stone.

 497 characters

Photo of maggotbrain
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 bottle:

The beer pours black with a moderate brown head. The head has died down to a thin film and there is a little lacing on the glass.

The beer smells very rich: coffee, a little dark chocolate, and a bit of black licorice.

The taste is a mix of dark-roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of black licorice. The alcohol isn't very evident. What a delicious imperial stout.

The mouthfeel is appropriately thick with little carbonation. It is just a little slick.

The drinkability is great considering how big this beer is. Stone is such an incredible brewing company.

 594 characters

Photo of PatYoda
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Late Spring 2003 Version.

Ahh the Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Always a good choice. Let's see how it has held up over the past 2 and a half years. Pours near black with a quickly dying half centimeter of brown foam that doesn't leave much behind. Just as expected. Swirling does bring back some foam. The smell hits me before I'm even finished pouring. Molasses, vanilla, raisins, coffee, rum, and oh so much chocolate behind it all. A hint of oxidation. Now to taste. The coffee and roasted grain bite first, you can really taste them on the tip of the tongue. Chocolate is there in force, as the smell suggested. Sweetness dominates in this beer after the initial bite - the molasses and dark fruit, especially raisins, really come through, with some vanilla as well. The sweetness is defnitely kept in check, however, by the harsh acidity of the roasted grain and coffee. Bittering hops are there too, but don't seem to play much of a role. Never does the beer as a whole actually become harsh. On the contrary, it is actually very smooth and easy drinking for such a big beer. Again, there is a bit of oxidation in the finish, but it is tucked in neatly behind the bitter coffee aftertaste and the chocolate. Very well blended flavors in this, one, but it's definitely a sipper. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied for the style, and very smooth.

 1,354 characters

Photo of sinistrsam
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first impression of this beer was the extremely dark body and dark head, with mild lacing. Even holding this up to the light gave little idea of color. It smelled of the typical roasty, chocolate, but was far more complex and very well balanced. The taste was also chocolate with hints of coffee, and one of the best balances of malts and alcohol I’ve ever had. The smoothness was incredible, with minimal carbonation. It finished as good if not better than when I started it, what I consider a rarity among Imperials. This was drinkable to the very end. Overall, this was one of the best Imperials I have ever had. Even if you’re not the biggest Imperial fan, give it a try, it might make you a believer.

 711 characters

Photo of Oxymoron
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sinful? Maybe. Stone’s Imp Stout pours out thick and super dark. Reminds me of motor oil. When held to the light there is some color distortion hinting of a deep chestnut brown color. A decent dark tan head with limited lacing. I would say one of the darkest I’ve ever seen. Very prominent at the beginning but does decrease over time.

The smell is very rich and very complex. A malt lining with chocolate mostly but roasted and coffee odors mix very nicely together. Some limited alcohol smell but a very nice rich and smooth aroma.

The taste is a very rich malt with more of a sweetness and chocolate taste. Very complex malt taste. There is a sort of smoothness that’s not like a milk stout but is similar in texture. Almost like coco. There is a big phenol flavor that becomes stronger in the aftertaste. I wonder if I would let this sit if it were not to mellow out more. As it is, it really deters from the taste. One thing to note is as it warms, it becomes less detectable.

The body is super big. A very rich an complex malt. An exceptional example of how an Imp Stout should be. I am a little deterred by the phenol flavor but overall I still impressed.

 1,175 characters

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

There are stout pours, and then there are Motherfucking Stout Pours. This is the later. This is completely opaque. Big brown head that ain't going nowhere.

Smells like strong coffee and Stone yeast. Very doughy. Jesus, is this an imperial IPA? Chewy tasty uncooked bread mixed with roast malt, coffee, and chocolate.

Tastes like the aforementioned flavor with a smoky hint like a smoldernig campfire. Dreams, good and bad. Lots of jumping candy and burnt toast and your mother's favorite dress when you'd lean against her and felt so safe. Remember. Feel it all over, eyes and ears and crying tongue. Look at the moon! your mother says. She tells you remember it because it's beautiful and even though you don't know what beauty is you still remember it years later, the color and the smells and her long hand over your shoulder.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful beer.

 877 characters

Photo of foamer
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 edition.

I can't believe how black this beer pours. I can't coax a hue out of this even with holding it up to the light. And what a thick tan head on the pour. About an inch and a half which diminishes to a nice ring of foam leaving lacing down the glass. Very impressive for 10.8% The nose is a symphony of aromas. Dark ripe fruits, unsweetened chocolate, with a faint roasted hint and some slight alcohol. Very very nice. Strong dark fruits up front blending seamlessly into a chocolatey bitterness with a strong alcohol warmth on the finish. This beer packs a punch, but does it with velvet gloves. You can tell the strength, but it hits you gently. Quite lovely, but it's going to take me the whole night to finish this bomber. Lovely thick and almost syrupy mouthfeel. Very minimal carbonation and smooth as silk. A very very lovely beer. I only wish I could get this more readily, I'd probably buy a case. Definitely something to cellar. Special thanks to Air Canada for getting this home in my luggage in one piece.

 1,030 characters

Photo of radshoesbro
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - black as black can be! completely blocks out all light. there wasn't much head and there was no lacing.

s - malty! reminds me of dark chocolate and coffee.

t - lots of malts and that 10.8% ABV is definately right in your face. mild creams goes down fairly smooth for a stone.

m - heavy bodied with a strong malt finish.

d - didn't go well with buffalo wings.

 378 characters

Photo of rabidawg
4.87/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Late Spring 2003 Release
9.47% ABV
Sampled 10/09/2005

Appearance: Pours a viscous pitch black. Little carbonation, and an aggressive pour yields a modest tan head. Sticky spots of lacing shellac the inside of the glass.

Smell: The only evidence of oxidation in this 2+ year-old bottle are slight hints of sherry in the nose. The alcohol has mellowed entirely, with nary a bit of booze. Sweet malt aromas touched by bittersweet cocoa powder and fresh-ground espresso dominate any hop presence.

Taste: Incredibly smooth and creamy in the mouth, with the initial flavors of cocoa combining with that to give the distinct impression I'm drinking a cellar-temp café mocha. Amazingly drinkable for a beer this big. Age has done this one right! Big espresso bite after the swallow, with a lightly bitter and slightly astringent finish. Warming alcohol presence noticeable in the flush of my face, but not in the taste. Excellent imperial stout, and a definite top five beer overall for me.

 996 characters

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

This one is just DARK. Held to the light, there's just the barest bit of mahogany. Tan one finger head (combo of loose and tight bubbles) goes down somewhat quickly, leavng thick wet lace behind.

The smell is deep and thick, with elements of strong coffee, molasses, dark chocolate...and oddly....bacon.

The flavour tends to be spicy, with some coffee notes- and even a bit of the bacon still. There's some round sweet chocolatey bits in the bottom of the aftertaste.

The carbonation hits right up front, and deteriorates at a medium pace. The liquid underneath is thick but not syrupy.

Very drinkable to me... I could easily make a sessioner out of this. In the words of my brother, "this beer makes me want a donut". I couldn't agree more. We like donuts....donuts GOOD.

Be well

 800 characters

Photo of troutmask96
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone has done it again. Their version of a traditional Russian Imperial Stout is sensational. This is a gargantuan brew that pours with the viscocity of used motor oil. I would have liked to have seen a bit more head. Smell is of dark chocolate, alcohol, and currants. Taste is...oh, my...so rich, so smooth, so drinkable at almost 10% ABV. I literally had to walk away from my pint glass for several minutes to pace myself.

Proceed with extreme caution...

 461 characters

Photo of DrJay
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005: Pitch black, dark brown, chocolatey head that leaves trails of lace down the side of the glass. Very fine head reduces to a ring and sticks around throughout. Strong roasted and burnt aroma, coffee, dark chocolate and lots of caramel malt. A bit smokey as well, with some vinous alcohol, ripe fruit, and licorice. Moderate bitterness with a bit of hop flavour balances out the roasty malt and alcohol very well. This brew is full of dark malts, giving it plenty of roasty coffee flavour and a bitter chocolate. The alcohol flavour blends into the background along with a bit of acidic smoke. Finishes with just a bit of bitter dryness from the roasted grains with a fair bit of sweetness. Theres lots of alcohol warmth going down, but no harshness. Smooth and creamy, full bodied with low, well-integrated carbonation. Wow. This is a great beer, well balanced and exactly what an imperial stout should be. It'll be fun trying this one again once it's aged a while.

 970 characters

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

2004 Edition: I am drinking this from the obligatory Stone IRS glass. The beer is black. The nose is of anise, light smoke, and roasted malt.

The taste is outstanding. It is drier than the fresher 2005 edition. Raisins, cherries, figs, and other dark fruits abound. Chocolate appears as it warms. The finish is long and bitter.

The mouthfeel is heavy, the carbonation light. The drinkability is good, as in I will have no problem downing this bomber. I don't think I could drink another one.

This sample has convinced me to not touch my stash of 05 IRS for at least a year, and to get more.

 604 characters

Photo of gotbeer
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a opaque black with a decent head. The head is dark like the beer, and it almost looks evil. It laces the glass lightly.

The taste is incredible. Coffee, chocolate, and raisens all come to mind. Incredible complexity and a little alcohol and a hoppy bite at the end. Very warming, and not nearly as thick as one might think from looking at the beer. That lends to a great mouthfeel, and it hides the beers ABV. The ABV is the only thing that takes away the drinkability of this beer.

An incredible imperial stout. My favorite to date, and I think it would be very hard to top.

 597 characters

Photo of Sixpoint
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep opaque black hole sucking in every beam of light in the room from my pint glass. Small half-inch of head slowwwly forming at the top. Lingering deep beige head leaves small lacing on the pint glass.

Aroma of fruity esters, with raisins and currants dominating. Slight burnt twinge and a faint hop presence as well. A mild alcohol warming in the nose.

Taste of deep French roast coffee and bittered caramel sweetness. Body is full but not cloying. A nice balance in the medley of flavors of fruity esters, alcohol, burnt/roated flavors, and hop bitterness.

Exceptional silky velvet mouthfeel that is full-bodied yet providing a smooth viscosity. A rare feat to create such a ful-bodied brew and not have it taste like maple syrup.

Alcohol is the only burner in the drinkability of this brew. A fine nightcap, if I must say so myself.

 849 characters

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

2005 Bottle. $4.49 at BevMo.

Appearance: Big creamy brown head that looks like a dense pile of brown sugar on top of the beer. The beer is jet black like used motor oil.

Smell: Soy sauce, brown sugar, toast, caramel, sweet and rich maltiness. The nose is quite attractive.

Taste: Dark chocolate, toast, roasted and slightly burnt sugar and deep malt profile full of rich flavor. This beer is roasty and tangy but not overpowering. Nice alcohol warmth comes way after the beer is consumed. No burning. Lots of mild flavors dancing between the rich roastiness and domoinating chocolate. Those mild flavors include toffee and a light hint of cherry. Well balanced and yummy.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, full bodied, coats the palate nicely. Rich is a good adjective for the feel of this beer.

Drinkability: All around an excellent stout, Russian Imperial or otherwise. Rich and full of wonderful roasty flavor and dark chocolate goodness. It leaves a velvety smooth feel in the mouth and tastes great. When it comes to price and availability, this is one of the best stouts out there. Wonderful this year as every year so far.

 1,130 characters

Photo of ghostwalker
4.66/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours absolutely black. How much more black could it be? None! None more black. Not much of a head, might have used the wrong glass for this one, (a Sam Smith's Imperial Pint). The head that did form was very dark brown, left some nice lacing too.

Dark, rich, malty nose with coffee highlights.Very nice, made my mouth water.

Flavor is outstanding! Mouthfeel as well. Heavy, but in a really good way, very rich and chewy. Coffee, chocolate, black currants, raisins and a wonderfully warm and soothing alcohol presence. Overall, the best flavor I could have possibly expected, they nailed everything the Imperial Stout style is about.

Drinkable? Hell, yeah! But not an all-night kind of beer. It's more like have 1-2 during a great afternoon college football party, interspersed with something like a nice hoppy IPA, (Harpoon IPA sounds good to me). The alcohol can definitely sneak up on you, but the flavor keeps it's appeal.

I had heard so much about this beer that I went out and bought the last 3 bombers I could find. Now that I have had one, I believe the hype. Too bad this is only a seasonal, I will hoard the remaining two and await this year's batch eagerly!

 1,182 characters

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

Been wanting to try this one for sometime, finally got a bottle for my birthday (what a gift!).

As with all Stone Brews, the label is part of the experience: ‘no actual sin used’ says this one.

This *does* pour silky and thick (like ‘Siberian Crude’ also says the label), and as head forms, I’m amazed at the rocky, garnet-colored beauty that grows to about 2.5 fingers-thick. It continues to enthrall and (I’ll admit, intimidate a bit) through the rest of the pour. Black as night and light carbonation struggles to the surface. The head quickly subsides to a dirty ring that lightly laces the glass

Nose is sweet and complex with the alcohol making itself known early. Prunes, raisins, and rum-soaked currants waft up dreamily, roastiness wafts in from behind.

The flavor is astounding, the fruits on the nose are immediate - again with the Prunes and currants with a backbone of French-roast coffee and black malts. Warming ethanol is a significant presence – would almost be too much would it not be for myriad other dense flavors present to balance it out. This is a huge beer. Oily in the mouth like a Port, though this has more body. Overall character struck me as remarkably Port-like as well.

Drinkability is excellent for the beer’s stature, though half a bomber slowed me down plenty (glad I was sharing). It was a superb combination with the char-grilled rib-eye and twice-baked potato. This would be a great beer for cellaring – the alcohol would soften and I can only imagine the deeper complexities of smell and flavor. I will be picking up a couple more of these for this reason alone.

update (01.14.08): after having this a couple more times (once aged a year on draft) I'm forced to knock this one down a bit in flavor and drinkability. A distinct, and consistent briny soy-sauce flavor (peated malt?) more present than many other impy stouts I've had since. Still, a strong offering.

 1,918 characters

Photo of unklesyd
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have this love/hate thing with Stone. I hate something about them, but I can't put my finger on it... but I love everything else about them, most especially their beers.

Looks the way a Imp. Stout should look. Pours thick.

Complex nose, subtle hop, dried fruits, ethanol back.

Fantastic palate and flavor, multilayered and creamy with a smooth butteriness and a bitterness from the hops that is well matched with the roast bitterness.

Not nearly as heavy as I thought; it is not fatigue inducing (well, on the body, perhaps on the mind... we'll see shortly).

Overall: an unsurprising surprise. For all the hype, I expected to be let down and was not even for a moment.

 685 characters

Photo of Backer2004
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Damn, this is beer is kicking my ass tonight. After a big Notre Dame win versus Michigan, I knew I needed to pull somthing nice out tonight. Appears as black as any brew I've tried, this one does not overwhelm me like Stone's barleywine. Combined with a Smore and more chocolate, this one complements any dessert. Packs a nice punch, the sweet malts balances any taste of alcohol. Definitely worth the $4.99 22 oz bottle.

 421 characters

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

This was a bomber I bought at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a tulip-type glass. The bottle is absolutely beautiful, as are all Stone bottles.

This positively looks like used motor oil. Thick and black as the night sky. A decent brown head of foam forms on top with an average pour. Head eventually drops to a ring, with decent enough lacing on the glass. I can see no light whatsoever through this beer.

Aroma is dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla with fruits like dates or prunes. Very estery. Vanilla stands out as this warms. Alcohol, too. Having said all that, I have smelled better RIS's.

Flavor is (WOW, is this thick!) like a chocolate/coffee milk shake with extra molasses, very dark malts, sweet as hell but not cloying in any way. A strong dose of hop bittering, combined with all the dark malts balances the sweetness pretty well. Alcohol is in there, that's for damn sure. It's very fruity, but I'll be dipped in shit if I can describe them. Aftertaste is sweet dark malts and mocha coffee.

Mouthfeel is thick as hell, oily, but in a pleasant way, very slippery on your tongue. Carbonation is soft, alcohol present but well muted.

This is one really big sumbitch. I can feel it after half the bottle, and my tolerance is pretty damn high. I like this alot. It's not a session beer, nor is it something you would drink every day, but for every now and then, or special occasions, it's wonderful. Highly recommended.

 1,457 characters

Photo of dwvarner77
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Limited Early Summer 2005 Release"

The bottle says it pours like Siberian crude, and it does just that. Leaves a thin quarter inch of thick deep brown-crimson head that falls to keep a nice lace. Completely opaque, I can only sense the slightest hint of light about the periphery, if that.
Nose is thick with chocolate, with a background of vanilla and coffee, even a hint of something like coconut. Catch no alcohol in the nose. Looks like this will be dangerous....
Taste is thick, deep with coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Sweet and malty, slight hop balance present, and the alcohol only hints at you with a warm taste in the belly.
Incredibly smooth, the slightest hint of carbonation keeps it from appearing syrupy. A bit of a thick texture at the back of the tongue, but not a detriment.
Big, thick, and strong, full of flavor, and dangerous b/c the ABV hides itself well. Could hit this again and again.

 920 characters

Photo of soulfly967
4.73/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition.

Poured into my tulip glass a black blacker than any beer i have ever seen before. I held it up to the light in the kitchen... nothing... total darkness. She had a nice dark brown head that fell to a ring around the glass leaving no lacing at all. The smell is of roasted malts, molasses, fresh brewed coffee, rich dark chocolate, and hints of vanilla and alcohol. The taste was a powerful roasted malt, with chocolate, coffee leading into an aftertaste of slight hops alcohol and dark chocolate lingering on the tongue. The mouthfeel is rich, creamy, very thick and enjoyable. Very drinkable beer for an impy stout lover like myself. I cannot wait to try this one after it has some age on it. So good, so damn good.

 732 characters

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

22 ounce bomber

Appearance: Dark, black beer. When light strikes the glass, it shows through a really really dark brown. Dark brown head.

Aroma: Smells are roasty, creamy and slightly bitter. The smells are nutty and thick with breadyness. Vanilla and cherry fruit are lingering at the outskirts of the nostrils.

Taste: The mouthfeel is solid and coating. The bitter flavor, from the coffee and dark chocolate side of the roastyness, flows through the mouth, lingering through the mouthfeel. The depth of flavor here is dramatic to say the least.

Notes: A very solid Imperial Stout. Very much worth your time.

 621 characters

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.82/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It looks like motor oil in my glass with a small tan head around the ring of my glass. It didn't pour with hardly any head. I have no idea how many bubbles are maintaining the head...it's Black!

Aroma: There are some noticeable floral hops hanging out with the roast and alcohol aromatics. As it warms, the aromas get more intense, but you don't notice anything really different than when it was first poured except that the alcohol becomes more apparent.

Taste: Super rich beer! There is a lot more hops in this version than I think that I have ever tried. There are noticeable floral hops when you first taste this beer to go along with the roast and fruit flavors. You get slammed by the roast and hops initially and this really doesn't let up much until you get a syrupy slick warming sensation on the back of your throat...like I imagine taking a teaspoon full of Vicks salve would be like.

Opinion: Golly gee, this is not your ordinary beer! It is way big, and something that I personally would only drink on occasion. I shared a bottle with some of my club members at a brew-in yesterday, and I am glad I didn't try to tackle this beer on my own. I think that this beer would do well to sit down for at least two years at 50F to let the hops mellow and the alcohol to add complexity. Like this, it hits your palate with brute force.

 1,360 characters

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 2,708 ratings.