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Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,661 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,661
Hads: 7,812
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 5.06%
Wants: 698
Gots: 2,021 | FT: 113
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone Imperial Russian Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,661 | Hads: 7,812
Photo of IceAce
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition

Poured into a chalice, this beer becomes a black hole within my home office. Light may enter this brew...but absolutely none is allowed to escape. It is capped with a ½" of malted-milk style foam which seemed to be chased off within a minute by the alcohol esters emitted from the goblet opening.

The nose, as a precursor to actually tasting the body, does a very good job of readying the palate. Ripe with chocolate, molasses, black currant, and heady alcohol, this stout is nothing but serious business.

Entry is silky smooth, getting support from a perfect level of carbonation. The deeply roasted malts lead headlong into the midtaste, quickly followed by layer after silky layer of chocolate covered fruits, molasses, and toffee. The finish is ushered in by a fast appearing wall of hoppiness which quickly disperses into a beautiful, alchohol-warming, slow malt fade which warms both the throat and the heart... (940 characters)

Photo of Mark
4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This review pertains to the limited edition 2005 early summer release. Black as night with a malted milk head that faded fairly fast. Some small smatterings of lacing were evident. It poured a thick almost motor oil like consistency. Aroma was of dark fruits, raisins, plums, and some roastiness. Alcohol in strong evidence. Taste was superb, one to sip, with all the above mentioned aromas figuring strongly as well in the taste profile. Thick and rich on the palate, with some chocolate notes I may add. This kicks your butt folks, I went right to bed after I had my bottle. More appropriate for a cold winter night but thankfully I had a coolish summer night to try it on. A very decadent big big beer. (705 characters)

Photo of mattcrill
4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage
Presentation: Limited Early Summer 2005 Release on the bottle.

Appearance: Motor oil viscous almost syrupy thick. Dense black with a brown carbonated head. The head doesn't last long and quickly settles to ring the glass nicely.

Smell: Dried plums, raisins, vanilla, a bit of oak, also some alcohol esters noted. Truly magical.

Taste: Very raw and vinous. A touch of smoke, vanilla bean, dark roasted malts, bitter chocolate, french roasted coffee all beat the heck out of my palate.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and slightly creamy. The carbonation balances out nicely. There is a long, coffee bitterness to the finish.

Drinkability: One to sip and savor. A fine summer tradition. A bit raw and I can't wait to see what some age does to this.

Strongly recommended. (800 characters)

Photo of beefytee
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Yup, a perfect score. 2005 Issue

This beer was amazing. I have to admit, not being much of a stout drinker, I was a bit intimidated. But it welcomed me with big, black warm open arms.

Poured opaque black and thick, like pouring vegetable oil.
Head resembled chocolate mousse
Lacing stuck around, used a pint glass, tonight I will use a goblet.
Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy coating my toungue and teeth
The drinkibility was what I was really surprised by.
To go into the complexity of the flavors is a bit daunting. In no particular order, chocolate, coffee, fig, currant, prune.

Malty but not too sweet, hops are there for a bit of a bitter finish, but definitely not a stand out characteristic. Warmed me all over. If I could give it a 4.995 I would, because I can't wait to taste this after I cellar it for a few years. (839 characters)

Photo of JackStraw22
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 edition, sampled in a St. Bernard goblet.
Appearance: Thick syrupy, pitchblackness. Dark caramel head. Head retention could've been better, but I hate to take off much for that since it could always be the glass.

Smell: Deep roasted barley aroma. Huge dark chocolate smell, mocha and coffee in there too. Wonderful.

Taste/Feel: Holy crap. Freakin' good. Tastes even more like dark chocolate than it smells. It's not too sweet, though, nice and balanced. Roasted barley and and decent amount of hop bitterness in there too. Hops are certainly present, but they're balanced. Can't imagine a better tasting Impy stout. Creamy and full mouthfeel, just enough carbonation.

Drinkability: What can I say. If I could buy ten cases I would. (747 characters)

Photo of Reidrover
4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Early Summer 2005 release.
A very,very black beer in the glass..e veritable black-hole of an ale, small purple/tan head goes fast leaving minimal lace.
fantastically robust aroma of many things among them aniseed, liquorice,dark roasted coffee beans, dark fruits, prunes and a kick of alcohol.Tremendous.
Tset starts of smooth then tumbles into an enjoyable roughness were the malts dominate and dark coffee is the taste,some very noticable alcoholic flavours in the end, lingering liquorice bitter sweet tastes.
Very nice in the mouth, smooth then rough but never unpleasant, soft carbonation.
Wow a veritable monster but worth drinking, though Im thinking maybe a 16 oz bottle would have been better for me..ah next time I will drink with a friend! (755 characters)

Photo of whartontallboy
4.87/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampling the 2004 bottling aged about one year.

Black pour with a big thick brown head. Pours out very thick, and the head retains well and leaves a good amount of lace.

Smell is dominated by alcohol, roasted malt, piney hops, dark fruit, dark chocolate, and coffee. Smells quite yummy.

Taste is quite complex. The roasty flavors meld well with a substantial hop bite, and a chocolatey coffee flavor persists throughout. The alcohol is present throughout the flavor, but comes through particularly strong in the finish. The creamy mouthfeel does a lot to enhance these flavors, and it comes through as the complex delightful mix of all of these notes.

Quite drinkable, and a first-class effort all around. (720 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Release '11: (reviewed 05/31/11)

An insanely masculine stout with ultimate creamy maltiness, aggressive roast, and a lush cocoa driven, coffee-centric flavor that completely defies what stouts should be.

Black as coal and with a voluptuous pour that exudes weight, creaminess, and viscocity- this inky black beer builds a thick top coat of foam adorns a medium tan color, carries a heafty retention and moderate lace. All this manifests in a very dessert-like appearance.

Malty, malty, malty rich aromas of slightly burnt toffee, nutty coffees, bittersweet cocoa, all come together in a way that reminds me of Whoppers malted-milk candies and chocolate covered espresso beans.

Flavors are all the same, except the malty sweet flavors erupt first, then with the quick rebuttal of coffee, cocoa, nutty flavors that demand attention at mid palate. All that coffee, chocolate, and nutty taste rounds out wonderfully with a bitter-sweet but cherry alcohol flavored finish that's reminescent of tirimasu and espresso bitterness.

Very lush and creamy textured, the early feel is robust and full. The beer makes a quick but even transition to a hearty malt mid palate, just before the bittering and drying finish. Though the beer never achieves full dryness or refreshment (It's not supposed to), rather holds onto a savory bitter chocolate semi-dry finish that lingers well into the next sip, making it a perfect compliment to a dessert or as a dessert itself.

Stone's Imperial Russian Stout is always at the epidome of what the style represents. With ultimate maltiness and supportive roast and complexities, it's amazing how effortless the beer seems at it's rudimentary levels, but how complex and succulent it becomes the more you delve into it's individual and unique flavors. (1,780 characters)

Photo of beersarang
4.87/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2004 edition:
Pours a black black black with a dark tan head. Did I mention this beer is black? Head retains pretty well and I can tell just by looking at it that this beer is THICK.

Fruity alcoholic roasty aromas rise out of this beer, coffee chocolate etc. Pure evil.

At first a strong fruity malt base hits, then you get punched in the face with hops and alcohol. The bitterness is indeed pronounced, and beyond that, the alcohol is noticable. The roast coffee/chocolate character is quite appealing. Lots of raisin and a touch of charcoal too. Finishes sweet and amazing. Aftertaste reminds you for the next two minutes. Damn.

Thick, pretty heavy bodied light carbonation, right on par for the style, I would like to say.

I would love to have this beer again, one of the best Imperial stouts, in my opinion. (824 characters)

Photo of sulldaddy
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

I am sampling a bottle from 2003 at room temp in a tulip/snifter. The bottle has been cellared adequately.
The beer pours pitch black with a 3 cm fluffy tan head foaming up easily. Leaves tight latticework as it slowly fades.
Aroma is deep rich chocolate and brown sugar, mising with some ripe plums and raisins. Deep sniffs detect just a hint of alcohol.
The first sip reveals a creamy silky body that caresses my palate. This mixes with a very fine carbonation that tingles gently across my tongue. Whoa! A good bit of warming from throat to belly after the swallow. Didnt get that on the nose!
Flavor is very malty! I get chocolate and some dark ripe fruit with a bit of espresso bean bitterness. The flavor gives in to the heavy warming effect on the finish. Very hot and it is difficult to focus on other aspects of the beer.
The beer is thick and heavy and this combined with the hot finish make it a big time sipper IMO.

Overall I find this beer to be good, but wonder if I were drinking cold would only the alcohol come through? Perhaps I will need to try a fresh bottle next time I see one I will buy for sure.
Tough to surmise, but would the alcohol be hidden better if fresh?
Perhaps I should also try it again when it isnt so stinkin hot outside!
Go try it for yourself! (1,296 characters)

Photo of Litterbean
4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I pop open the cap and watch as wisps of steam furtively escape the chilly interior, like moaning spirits reaching towards the sky. Pouring forth from this dark bottle comes a fluid so deep, thick, and syrupy that pancakes are suddenly my deepest desire. The rocky, off-white head taunts me. I lift my glass to my nose, and am overtaken by a sweet caramel aroma, with hints of licorice, and sweet caramel. Visions of hop flowers enter my brain as I realize that the earthy character of this brew is more than palpable. The taste, where to begin? Hoppiness to the extreme, but a deep, burnt, chocolatey undertone hits me where it hurts the most: my palate. Undaunted, I realize that the complexities of this beer are too much to handle. I find many hints and flavors, all intermingling and forming a cacophony of sinful flavor in this hearty brew. Sip upon sip reveals nuances that had previously remained hidden. The balance between the hops and malts are striking, but just because there is balance does not mean that neither is too extreme. Both are in your face, both hit you like a ton of bricks, and both can decimate the palate if one does not respect this mighty beer. Smoothly it finishes, and is surprisingly easy to drink. And just as easily as it was poured, it finishes, and my liver has a long night ahead of it. (1,325 characters)

Photo of neonbrown82
4.51/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Every time some Stone manages to find it's way into my belly here in Stone-deprived Iowa, it seems to impress me more and more. Thanks to fellow BA mentor for sharing this exceptional brew.

My review for appearance is no different than my previous take on this brew. It pours to a dark sludgy black with a little brown head. Just like siberian crude. Also giving a bonus .5 point to the appearance/presentation for the fact that the Stone bombers are so enjoyable to read.

The smell wasn't quite as powerful as I remembered it to be. Caught aromas of coffee, chocolate, black liquorice (anise), and a subtle but undetermined hop.

The taste was as described by the nose, but much more intense. The chocolate malt flavor was blended very well with the coffee. There wasn't much of a hoppiness or roastiness detected, but rather it seemed to be quite sweet. This beer is responsible for my current craving for the Imperial Stout style.

The mouthfeel is full and viscous. Once again, has a very oil like quality, not that I've ever actually ingested crude oil for a true comparison. After about a year of aging, the ethanol flavor seems to have become more mild along with the bitterness. I think the year has done this brew well.

Drinkability is quite high, but I couldn't rate it at perfect due to the fact that 1 22 oz is not enough, but 2 seems to be almost too much at times. I think this is my favorite brew at the moment, but unfortunately it is not distributed here. (1,485 characters)

Photo of gimmehead
4.72/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Jet black with a very thin and short-lived milk chocolate head. Bitter roasted malt aroma, sweet caramel and milk chocolate; slighlty smoky and acrid. Some very subtle citric hops, a hint of coffee and a little alcohol. Almost sugary sweet like a milk stout. Hugely complex and intrigueing. Tastes of roast bitterness followed by that sugary sweetness that is evident in the nose. I absolutely love it. Sort of marshmallowy. Some acrid bitterness in the finish, along with some resinous hops. Very warming and alcoholic. This beer is a mouthfull, creamy and very thick. Mouthcoating is the word. Dangerously drinkable, this beer should have a warning lable. (657 characters)

Photo of mentor
4.85/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber obtained from Liquor Mart (Boulder) in 2004 and consumed in June 2005. Pours a dandy brown two-finger head over a pitch black liquid. Smells of roast, chocolate, molasses, and alcohol. Tastes divine. Wow this is incredible. Starts sweet smooth molasses chocolatey before Ghengis Khan drives 1,000 screaming roasted barley grains through my mouth and down my throat. A detectable alcohol lays beneath these flavors and becomes more prevalent in the aftertaste. Super thick creamy mouthfeel and mild carbonation. Further tastes reveal a great depth in the molasses flavor. Wet sweet to start with some fruits, but they are hard to identify before the roast appears. Plums or prunes and some licorice, too. The roast is dry and contrast with the malt in a nice power struggle. In the end, roast dry does win out, but the malt sweet hasn't completely given up the ghost. It's for this reason that I never became tired of this beer. I can't tell if I'm attributing some hop bitter to the roast character or not. If there are any hops here, they have settled. This is one fabulous beer. Many desirable flavors coming and going in an easy and well-blended flow. (1,161 characters)

Photo of BeerManDan
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Don't have to talk to much about this stout, it's just about the most perfect Russian Stout that has come to my lips and palate.

This has to be a brew above it self. I've been buying at least one case a year for the last four years and will continue to buy more.
After two years in the case, it taste's even better than when I tasted it before buying.

Even in 2013, this is my favorite Imperial Stout!!! That is eight years now. (431 characters)

Photo of pootz
3.77/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

spring 2003 edition. Bottled, bomber. Poured a dense black viscous ale into the pint glass with a rich chocolate cap that settles to a lacing ring. Thick prune, fig and sweet capuccino tones to the nose. Rich silky body permeated with the standard Impy tastes...deep chewy dried fruit tastes, cocoa/coffee tones. Light hop presense ( many be a result of the aging). Finish give the licorice impression that the alcohol turns to a light salty taste. A good standard Imperial but certainly over rated as there are many equally good, or better, Imp stouts about. (559 characters)

Photo of futaboots
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Damn, when I pop the cap off this bottle, I'm reading the words , "NOTHING BUT BARLEY, HOPS, WATER & YEAST." I'm still thinking about that, while I'm pouring the beer out, I'm also thinking, damn, that is some DARK beer, holding this up against a light, NOTHING gets through. Kind of a wimpy head I'm thinking, and it's just this thin layer of thick brown foam. The first sip of this beer is like getting punched in the face. Just a goddamn onslaught of flavors. The usual stout flavors are there, like chocolate, roasted grains, sweet maltiness, enough hops to notice, a slightly dry puckering feeling, and all this shit is turned up to eleven.

At first, it's nice and cold, tastes like dark chocolate mixed with cold cofee and a few tablespoons of sugar. But see, it's deceptive, the flavors are so strong that they soon over power you, and while your tastebuds are being pummeled into submission, all you can do is sit there and stare into space for a couple minutes, until you realize, "I should really take another sip now." The beer warms up, and and I can start to taste the alcohol, it burns slightly, but not in a bad way, it actually helps me snap out of the trance. The beer tastes much sweeter now, and the alcohol is making my whole chest feel warm (which is good, cuz I had to ride home tonight from work on my motorcycle while it was raining). I'm giving this one almost all 5's, to me it is everything a beer should be, appealing to my basic tastes, while firing off some synapes in my brain.

I just couldn't drink this every day, maybe not even once a month, I definitely cannot drink another beer tonight. (1,630 characters)

Photo of Truh
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The masses gave me the thumbs down, so off with his head with this one on 5/12/2004. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

No head to speak of, just a light rim around the circumference of the glass. Mocha/java in appearance; nice, inky black. Impressive whisky and molasses bouquet, quite sweet, like an understated WWS. Deep flavor profile topped by some burnt umber notes, hickory, Chinese five-spice heat, black pepper, orange rind, and a dash of soy. Given the high alcohol, this was a surprisingly smooth libation. Time to store one away for a while. (576 characters)

Photo of canucklehead
4.97/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thick and ebony in colour, this is an imposing beer. The smell was old chocolate and vinous notes swirling around the back. The taste was unexpected as instead of big hops and malts I got a fantastic melange of aged chocolate, wine, hops and fruit. The last time I had a beer this well constructed it was a Westy 8. I love Rogue and North Coast's take on this style but I must say that Stone have created something quite sublime and full of the brewers soul. (458 characters)

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.73/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - opaque black, dark mocha head that dissipates to a moderate crown.

Aroma - dark smoky espresso with mild soy sauce, intense and thick.

Taste - sweet up front, then progresses smoothly into coffee flavors, delicious and roasty. 10.8% abv comes through but is masked extremely well. Ends with a mild alcohol warmth, chocolate and espresso.

Mouthfeel - smooth, rich, and moderately carbonated.

Drinkability - perhaps the most drinkable 10%+ beer I've ever had. (482 characters)

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.63/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the glass black, midnight black, the head was very low, dark brown, but was persistent and laced the glass.

The aroma was strong expresso coffee, dark chocolate and fruitiness blended with some higher alcohols. The fruits were dark and that of raisins and prunes.

The flavor was dark chocolate with raisins and prunes and other fruits. The malt had a sweetness that was comanded by the acidity of the dark grains. The expresso flavor tamed the sweetness into submission and then held it on the ground till it was made to cry Uncle. The bitterness component in the flavor was slightly grassy and understated again held in place by chocolate and coffee.

The finish was dry with a lasting coffee and chocolate mixed with dark fruits long into the aftertaste. The body was full, every bit of it. Alcohol made it's presence known in the aroma, but really only shined in the warming sensation that occured after consumption.

22 ounce bottle. 2004 early summer release. The head must have been impaired by the alcohol content of the beer. The alcohol also lowers the drinkability slightly. (1,115 characters)

Photo of BeerFink
4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 release, served from a 22oz bomber...

This seemingly demonic brew blackens my snifter as a sticky brown head arises like a phoenix. As I consume this stout, sticky lace accumulates on the sides of the glass. No light is visible anywhere in this blackness. Huge aromas eminate from the glass - dark fruit (black currants) is up front, along with lots of black coffee and some bitter chocolate. Alcohol is also apparent in the nose. Taste is quite complex. Roasted barley and black patent flavors are quick to attack the palate. The dry malt blitzkrieg is followed by sweet fruits. I'm thinking about raisins, black currants, and prunes as this stout permeates my digestive system. Coffee and and a little chocolate are also apparent, lingering til the bitter end. The faintest hint of hops are apparent, but are not long in the world of this stout. Alcohol is not hidden at all - it takes control of the flavor a little too quickly, but is not totally overpowering. There is a classic roasted finish, enhanced by the warming alcohol. The sweet fruit flavor balances the roast taste like few others. The 10.8% abv warms the body quite like a wine. Good carbonation balances the heavy mouthfeel. Although not the stickiest of imperials, you still feel like you need a toothbrush to be rid of this brew. Chalk up another heavy hitting ass kicking brew from Stone.

I couldn't think of a better way to sum up this stout than an excerpt from the bottle: "It almost seems evil." (1,481 characters)

Photo of Hefe
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber with the Stone Gargoyle doing his job impressively. "Komplicated Beer for Komplicated Times, Komrad" it says at the bottom. Indeed. One hell of a Komplicated brew. Late spring 2003 release served with decadent capitalist chocolate dessert on 3/19/05.

Pours a dark chocolte brown, with light visible at the edges, and a surpisingly thick chocolate head that quickly dissapates to sticky lacing at the rim of the glass. Before I even get my nose anywhere near the glass, it hits me. Molasses, dark roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, dried fruits. The flavours are of a chord with the aromas, the finish is unexpectedly dry given the immense richness and a seeming initial sweetness. Carbonation is very fine, and the mouthfeel would be creamy if not for a viscous richness. Despite the size of this brew it never becomes cloying or overwhelming.

Bravo! (870 characters)

Photo of bensiff
4.77/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This dark beauty poors dark and thick consistent with the style. It has a slight tan head with nice lacing.

Its aroma is filled with alcohol, dark chocolate, and coffee notes. Mouthfeel is full as this high gravity drink delivers a powerful yet surprisingly smooth punch given its high ABV. Taste is outstanding and by far the best I have encountered in this style.

Overall this rates highly with exceptional drinkability. Due to its heavy hitting nature resulting in a slow sipping intake, I suggest a nice cigar accompany this one to bring out the best in both. Take the two in on the back porch with a friend and a debate of philosophy, theology, and politics and you have a glorious night...just remember that drinking this Russian doesn't mean that you aren't a good red blooded American even if commy's come up in the debate. (838 characters)

Photo of guinnessman
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours with a nice thick soapy brown head. It's dark as night and beautiful. Smells very sweet with little alcohol smell. Has a very thick, very smooth mouthfeel, with a rich chocolate taste. You would never know that this one is 9.7%. Very drinkable!!! (252 characters)

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 2,661 ratings.