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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.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

7,461 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,461
Reviews: 2,629
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 652
Gots: 1,766 | FT: 103
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: 7,461 | Reviews: 2,629
Photo of Rifugium
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's bottle shop, Media, PA

Poured into a Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. shaker. Thick, opaque black, reddish-brown around the edges, with a good three fingers of chocolaty brown head that receded to a mere ringlet about halfway through the session; soapy lacing throughout. Served at just about room temperature. Aroma rich with chocolate, roasted malts and coffee, with a touch of smoke. Luxurious taste of bittersweet chocolate balanced with a bit of bitter coffee, and subtle hints of smoke and and definite blast of alcohol warmth that perhaps is augmented when the beer is warmer. Thick and full-bodied, and very drinkable, if a bit on the strong side.

Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of drewone
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

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

Color is as black as sin, thoroughly opaque, utterly dark, and well-endowed with a full, thick, lush roasty-toasty tan head.

Aroma: Oh, goodness, gracious, golly! Sweetness, rich, lush, chocolatey, and burgeoning with a myriad of further flavors, dates, raisins, anise, molasses, maple syrup, dark, twisted, delicious...I've compared certain other Imperial Stouts to candy bars (Bell's Expedition, to name one, whose glass I drink this from), and this goes a touch beyond that, without testing the boundaries of sweetness. Magnificent.

Taste: No body could be fuller, no taste could be richer, the malt is thick and juicy, even, and the hops keep the tongue busy and happy. A complex melange, a viscous mouthfeel, constant tussel with the palate, insistent pleasure on the tongue.

Now, the thicker, slicker, motor-oliy feel kicks in, but by now, you love it, or you're out. Strength, too, sets it's feelers out and begins to trickle into the feeling and the brain, as well. Sticky and treacly, though dark, and thoroughly delicious, if your tastes run like mine.

It rolls around and around the mouth, washing all the senses with this rich, dark, utterly decadent flavor.

Oh, what dark malts can do, for this flavor is so rich, so thick, so fully flavorful, this is decadence, indeed.
Finish? There ain't none! It just keeps going in the mouth!
Mouthfeel? It is utterly dominant, thoroughly covers every inch of the senses...an amazing beer!

I'm going to close on the note that this is my second bottle of this incredible beer, and second review, for when I first cracked the cap on this monster over 15 months ago, I might not have been prepared for the totality of this experience, despite my past love and appreciation of Imperial Stouts.
Now, later, I acknowledge what an astounding bad boy this one is, and I LOVE IT!!!

Photo of drabmuh
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a scored tulip. Beer is BLACK as night, thick, forms a very thin head of brown tiny bubbles. The head falls away quickly leaving almost nothing behind in the way of the head but a lot of lacing, especially considering the tiny scale of the original head.

Smell is far weaker than I was expecting. There is some sweetness, some malt, not a lot of roast and I can detect some alcohol in there as well. No hop aroma.

Mouthfeel is good, not too thick not thin at all. The flavor is sweet, with a lot of roast in the back. I can taste some of the alcohol. High drinkability. The roast completely clears leaving no aftertaste. This is a superb RIS.

Photo of mdfb79
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 10/04/10 notes. Had on tap at Churchkey for their Stone Total Tap Takeover event. 2004 vintage.

a - Pours a dark black color with one to two inches of off white head and light carbonation evident. Looks great.

s - Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and coffee. Light dark fruits as well. No alcohol in the smell, very balanced and smells great.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, and hint of alcohol.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Very easy to drink for 10.5% ABV.

d - This is a great RIS. I've had it several times and a few different vintages and have always enjoyed it. This one being a 2004 vintage, I didn't think the extra time did too much to improve the beer, but regardless, it is one of the best easily available RIS's out there. Interested to open my 08 bottle soon to compare to, will definitely have again.

Photo of beernads
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stem-goblet at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, California. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average; Stone is direly overrated but I heard good things about this brew in particular, and I like the style.

Paired with sweet potato fries.

A: Pours a half finger head of khaki colour, nice cream, okay thickness, and bad retention. Colour of the body is a nontransparent solid opaque black. I prefer the head colour of beers in this style to be more of a tan - the darker the better - but khaki does alright. I'm not anticipating a great beer, though. Due to the nontransparency, no yeast particles are visible (if they're there).

Sm: Vanilla, cream, chocolate, caramel, and hints of roast. A mild strength aroma. Roast should be more present given the style. I'm alerted.

T: Generic chocolate and tame cream over a dark malt (chocolate malt inclusive) foundation with underlying caramel. Some vanilla hints that don't amount to much. No real layering here. Not at all complex for the style. Stone played this beer surprisingly safe. Why is it they pick this style to do that on? They seem to force unwelcome flavours into most otherwise simple styles. Decently balanced but built without boldness, experimentation, or inspiration. As Imperial Stouts come, this is pretty generic.

Mf: Silky smooth and wet. Completely wrong for the style; a stout demands dryness and coarseness (from roast) overcome masterfully by cream. That isn't the case here. Too thin. Adequate carbonation.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. Russian Imperial stouts like this one are a dime a dozen nowadays. There are far better beers in the style, even at the same or lesser price. It's decent, and I might pick it up in bottled form at a good price, but don't expect masterful brewing. I wouldn't recommend it to friends. In fairness, it'd be a pretty good beginner's Russian Imperial Stout. My main problem with it surrounds its lack of inspiration or specialization; as a generic example of the style it'd be a good introduction for people new to the style.

A decent candidate for aging, but I wouldn't do it meself.

Would pair okay with chocolate. Not real suitable to barbecue.

B-

Photo of jwc215
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured jet black with a fairly thin, but extremely well-retained tan head.
The smell was mainly of rich, roasted coffee with a touch of alcohol. It was slightly thin, but what was there was very inviting.
The taste was incredible...I drank it before reading the label -which describes it perfectly - It was a complex mixture of coffee, licorice (anise), chocolate-like berries (black currants)...and a slight charcoal-like smoke malt...but, as my roommate (who had the good fortune of sharing it with me) pointed out - each one was like a different level. It was like eating a rich layer cake. You could taste the different levels individually.
The mouthfeel was silky smooth. Perfect.
The drinkability...well, if it weren't for a budget and alcohol-content - I could drink it endlessly...
This is a beautiful beer...
I was prepared to be a bit disappointed because of the hype, which is sometimes overrated. But, in this case the hype was well-grounded!

Photo of smcolw
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful beige head that leaves ring lace after each sip. Nearly black in color--no light shines through.

Burnt sugar smell. Also, interestingly, there's a sourness that I associate with older fruit.

Strong roasted barley flavor which defers from the typical coffee flavors. Lots of black patent malt. The aftertaste has some hop, but it's still a mostly dark malt. Appropriate body for the style.

I like this beer, but it isn't my favorite from Stone. That said, it is another great beer from them.

Photo of DrBier
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

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

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy light brown head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich black malt and chocolate scent with a dry alcohol driven aroma! The taste is great. It has an intense black malt flavor with a dry warm finish. It goes down smooth and leaves a black malt aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a fine Russian Imperial Stout. It has good aroma and better flavor; a good drinker.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Photo of Mora2000
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage consumed 4/3/2010.

The beer pours dark brown to black with a khaki colored head. The aroma is chocolate and roasted malt with some piney hops. The flavor is lots of bitter chocolate, coffee and some piney hops as well as roasted malt. As the beer gets to room temperature you start to get some other flavors including semi-sweet chocolate, caramel, toffee and brown sugar. Medium bitterness overall, much less so than when the beer is fresh. The alcohol is not that present in the taste but it is warming. Thick, creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation.

Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of duceswild
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

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

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint.

A - Pours jet black with a small half finger tall tan head, dissipating down to almost nothing, leaving very little lacing down the glass.

S - Lots of dark roast, bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, and some vanilla sweetness. Not as sweet and roasty as some of the others, more of a balanced nose.

T - Rich coffee, chocolate, and lots of dark roast mix well to form a well rounded stout. Finish is roasty, but not to the point of being overpowering, and it lingers for a good amount of time. Easily one of the best beers on the market today. I am glad I have a few of these in the cellar.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Thick viscous feel with a good amount of lingering roast in the finish.

D - Very high. I have always loved this beer and I would even say it is one of my all time favorites. You would be hard pressed to find a better beer for your money.

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

11/26/04- Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA

Appearance- Pours a very black and thick used motor oil color. Head is brown and about 3/4 inch. Not very much lacing to be had though.

Smell- Mmmmm, chocolate and heavy burnt coffee malt.

Taste- Damn, this is the best stout I have ever tasted. I need to re-taste Rasputin on tap because it's been over a year since I have had it. But, I'm pretty sure this tops it. About the perfect combo of chocolate and coffee I have ever had. Nice hops finish in the background.

Mouthfeel- Perfect except it's a tad too carbonated to me which makes for a slightly less than smooth swallow.

Drinkability- Brutally drinkable! This may be my highest rating to date. From the first sip I didn't want it to end. Too bad I had to share a 22 oz bomber with two other people. Only 8 oz at the most for poor me :( The alcohol comes through pretty hard at the end. Already noticing a tinge of buzz after my 8oz. Fricking phenomanal beer. Like drinking a smores with a cup of coffee. But minus the marshmallow and plus the buzz. Sounds good to me.

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

22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2011 vintage, bottled in Spring 2011. Pours Dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, toast, dark bread, light char, molasses, raisin, light licorice, herbal, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malts with moderate earthy yeast ester notes; with good strength and some slight booziness. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, toast, dark bread, light char, molasses, raisin, light licorice, herbal, and roasted earthiness. Slight earthy herbal/roasted bitterness after the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roast, toast, dark bread, light char, molasses, light raisin, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of dark/bready/roasted malt flavors with light-moderate earthy yeast flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish, Overall this is outstanding imperial stout. All around awesome complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and light-moderate earthy yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of nathanmiller
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%

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

2004 Bottling, Sampled June, 2004
Pours a pitch black color that supports a deep brown creamy head. Rich dark malt aromas waft from my glass, and are joined by notes of rum, burnt raisins, toasted biscuits, and a fair amount of grain character. The taste is intensely malty, and it almost has a saltiness to it. It is quite rich, yet somehow light for an Imperial Stout. There is a nice low level of malt sweetness here that balances the roast character, and each of these components is in some way muted by the interaction of the other. This beer is definitely rich and creamy from the front end to just before the finish, after this the burnt, roast malt flavors kick in and linger around a bit


2001 Bottling, Sampled June 2004
I have been saving this bottle for quite a while. Since I am going to be getting a case of the 2004 pretty soon I decided that now would be a good time to try an aged sample.

It pours motor oil black with a deep dark brown thin head. It is quite a clear deep brown color when held up to the light through a thin cross section. The aroma is ripe with notes of dried prunes, raisins, miso, and sherry. There appears to be at least some oxidation character in the nose. Underneath the other aromas I get hints of espresso, and roasted barley. The beer is still quite thick and viscous; it is fairly sweet up front with strong dark malt flavors just dominating my palate. This is incredibly tasty and has aged quite well in my closet. It is slightly oxidized, which adds more complexity to this already complex beast, there is a hint of sherry and some port notes, but none of the wet cardboard type oxidation flavors. It is quite fruity up front with notes of prune, raisin, and cherry. The finish is dry and slightly astringent from all of the dark malt notes that includes espresso, burnt toast, and roasted barley.

Did I say that this is damn tasty? It is quite smooth, and just slides viscously down my throat, coating my entire mouth with lingering flavors that refuse to dissipate entirely. I take another sip and the process begins anew. The middle of this beer is laden with smooth dark malt flavors, but the burnt/ roast character of this beer really only hits you at the very end. As this beer slowly disappears and as it continues to warm up, it just gets better and better. This beer is awesome right now; I am definitely going to have to age quite a few of the 2004 vintage.

Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one pours a strong black color with a thin dark brown head. The nose was dominated by alcohol more so than other imperial stouts, but coffee, roasted malt, and licorice were noticeable. The flavor kicks butt. Roasted malt, coffee,chocolate, caramel, licorice, plums, and alcohol were flavors I could pull out during the drink.

Very thick bodied. Smooth on the tongue. I noticed a chocolate and mellow coffee aftertaste. Very creamy finish.

This one turned me off slightly at the start on the aroma due to the very dominant alcohol smell, but the flavor turned the tables. The alcohol level was much more tolerable by the tongue and was balanced in the other flavors. I will need to try this one again soon.

Photo of dbrauneis
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Release

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with just the faintest hints of very dark brown near the surface when held up to the light and moderate amounts of visible carbonation near the surface as well. The beer has a quarter finger tall dark mocha head that reduces to a medium sized patch of extremely thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts with significant notes of coffee, anise/licorice, and bittersweet chocolate.

T: Very similar to the smell, the taste of this beer is dominated by the dark roasted malts, anise/licorice, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate. There is a light to moderate amount of bitterness that lingers lightly. Just a hint of alcohol as the beer warms up.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied with moderate to high amounts of carbonation. Smooth with some alcohol warming (which increases as the beer warms).

O: This beer has a great amount of complexity to both the smell and the taste of the beer. This beer is very enjoyable but not the easiest to drink, the high ABV (which is not all that well hidden) makes this one a real sipping beer. Good example of the style.

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

Vintage 2007 presented in the form of a brown swing top 2 liter growler that was filled at the Warwick hotel during the Stone takes over the Warwick event. The event took place on 4/9 and this review is from notes taken the following weekend of 4/16 when the growler was shared with those who could not make the event.

The growler surprisingly enough opened with a very resouding thud. I was worried that the growler fill might have left this brew a little flat when compared to the draft version but to much excitement that wasn't the case.

Poured into a Stone pint glass, it appears a very dark brown to black color with a darkly tanned head that doesn't retain all too well. Nose is bitter smelling roasted malts with chocolate sweetness and a slight touch of soy sauce blended with coffee. Rounding out the aroma is some citrus hops and alcohol. Taste is a big malty sweet monster of a brew laden with alcohol and notes of bitterness from both hops and burnt grains (that also exhibit the flavors of coffee and bitter dark chocolate.) There is a residual sweetness that lingers tasting almost like dark fruits that blends with the alcohol laden dark chocolate and coffee that makes this dangerously drinkable and quite smooth. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated this vintage was a real sweet and alcohol burning treat. As it warms, there are notes of licorice coming through with the ever increasing alcohol presence that was previously hidden by the malt sweetness.

I've had this brew a number of times in varying years and serving types. They have always been an enjoyable experience with their own unique characteristics. While fresh this brew is quite bitter but time let's it smooth out and become a little more sweet (like this example.)

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 7,461 ratings.