Imperial Russian Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged - Stone Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 473 | Reviews: 106 | Display Reviews Only:
4.71/5 rDev +5.6%
Reviewing the elusive Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Company out of Escondido, California. An ineffably generous friend sent me this long-time personal white whale out of the blue a couple of weeks ago (thanks Mike!). With one of my close beer drinking friends having a baby in less than a month and the other leaving town for a couple of months on business, now seemed as good as a time as ever to share this brew.
2008 vintage elixir from a 1 liter growler, served in a Hunahpu's snifter and enjoyed on 03/15/14. Review is from iPhone notes.
Appearance: Pours a deep brown cola color with ruby-caramel highlights and a finger of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing and retention, but good oily legs. 4/5
Smell: Dark chocolate, whiskey and figs. A little bit of dark cherry, and a kiss of lovely oxidation. Not overly complex, but extremely pleasant smelling. 4.75/5
Taste: Tastes like dark chocolate and whiskey, with a touch of fruit! No booziness, not sweet, not very bitter; just balanced and with a lasting finish. A delicious cocoa powder flavor develops in the finish as this brew warms. The taste, like the nose, is very straightforward, but it marvelously delivers in a no frills, no nonsense way. 4.75/5
Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, good carbonation. Incredibly creamy mouthfeel with a light dryness to the finish. Almost perfectly balanced -- not too sweet or too bitter. 4.75/5
Overall: For a beer I have long sought after, there is little more I could have asked for here. I was not in the least bit disappointed given my high expectations and this beers reputation. What this one lacked in depth and "evolving flavors" as it warmed up and breathed, it more than made up for in sheer deliciousness. This was one of the easiest to drink barrel aged stouts I have tackled in a long while. Just wish I had more than 1 liter to go around. Thank you again Mike for sending me this treat. Prost!
Cost: Unknown (received as a thank you gift).
03-24-2014 00:38:37 | More by jegross2
4.53/5 rDev +1.6%
Pours a jet black opaque color with a modest chocolate brown head that dissipates fairly quickly.
Chocolate, bourbon, and oak are accentuated by roast malt and coffee in the aroma.
Sweet and rich throughout, there are huge chocolate and soy flavors upfront, accompanied by deeply roasted malt that lacks the acrid character sometimes present. The aftertaste is fairly toasted and nutty. Bourbon weaves its way into the flavor throughout.
Body is fairly full, with low carbonation and significant alcohol heat.
Wonderful improvement to a wonderful beer. Not as much roast dominance as in the regular version.
02-11-2013 23:28:56 | More by barczar
4.2/5 rDev -5.8%
Growler shared by thickfreakness (thickerfreakness). Thanks Charles!
Pours Dark black with a short lived tan head. Smell is bourbon, chocolate and a slight doughy-ness along with a bit of vanilla. Tastes is rich and chocolatey, with some bitterness. Light vanilla flavor and balanced light bourbon flavor too. Medium to full bodied with moderate to light carbonation. Solid mouthfeel. I liked this way better than the non-BA version.
07-01-2008 18:47:08 | More by JDV
4.85/5 rDev +8.7%
I was lucky enough to encounter this beer on tap at Brewzilla, the grand tasting of Cleveland Beer Week 2010. Served in several 5oz pours over the course of the evening. The first glass was handed to me by my friend Brian Wright, who smiled and said "enjoy". The seventh glass was handed to me by my friend Brian Wright, who frowned and said "you aren't driving tonight, are you?" For the record, no I was not, we stayed down the street!
Back to the first glass...if Steven Hawking was a beer aficionado, he may have written a book called "Behavior of particles in a 'Stone BA IRS' hole". I can almost hear his sweet robotic voice lecturing about how nothing can escape the darkness that is this beer. A beautiful cappuccino colored head is its first victim. It hangs out for a few minutes, and then gets sucked into the vortex, never to be seen again. Some lace is left behind as a reminder of what was and what will never be.
But an anomaly occurs that makes me question everything. Light has no mass, but it's still drawn into this beer due to the warping of space and time. However, apparently, the most amazing scents of roasted malt, bourbon, vanilla, and coconut break free. Maybe the perfect smelling beers have no photon mass, or, maybe, the smell is more powerful than science itself!
To make this beer drinking experience even better, Mitch Steele, head brewer at Stone and a really nice guy, was on hand and served as my co-pilot on the first journey. We had a toast and I took my first sip, throttling full-blast towards the event horizon. I swear I could taste both the particles and the anti-particles; they were utterly exceptional. The roasted malt reminds me of dark chocolate and a touch of Sumatra coffee. Some caramel and dark fruit make an appearance. The wood has added touches of vanillin, coconut and just a hint of tannins. The bourbon is present but not dominant enough to eclipse any other element. The smoothness of the barrel treatment is elegant without being too weak. As it warms, it becomes a chocolate, vanilla and coconut dream.
The beer is velvet in liquid form. The body is full and the carbonation is creamy. The only problem with the mouthfeel is the touch of noticeable alcohol that breaks up the party for a split second. That being said, I enjoyed this beer more than anything I've had in the last 10 months of reviewing. That's over 415 beers since my last score this high. It's truly a stand-out and makes a legendary beer even better. I hope every beer lover has the chance to try this someday! Thanks and cheers to Mitch and Greg for sending this to Ohio and for Jay for his insight to put it at Brewzilla! Cheers, ya bunch of STONE-ers!
11-03-2010 14:59:26 | More by jampics2
4.28/5 rDev -4%
Stone Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Poured into a pint glass.
A - Pours a deep dark brown to black with a thin light cream head that dissipates rather quickly. (4.0)
S - There is tons of complexity in the nose. Starting with some boozy heat and sweetness from the bourbon. Mixes of burnt caramel, brown sugar, chocolate and some slight grassy hop. (4.0)
T & M – Tons of complexity. Nice sweet bourbon notes some slight wood and some nice heat. Vanilla sweetness with a mild chocolate cake notes. Some slight hop notes on the back end are felt but these definitely take a back seat. There is some nice roasted malt notes that blended well with the chocolate and the vanilla notes. Nice rich and creamy stout with lower carbonation and some good bourbon and boozy heat. (4.0)(4.5)
O – Good beer from Stone with some nice Bourbon and chocolate balance and a rich flavor profile.(4.5)
04-22-2011 22:27:51 | More by JoEBoBpr
4.75/5 rDev +6.5%
Thanks to Ineedabeerhere (Joe) for this one. Opened at a tasting 5/29/10. 4oz. pour from a 64oz. growler into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.
A: Pours a .5 finger upward climbing mocha head with great retention. Beer is opaque and pitch black. Lacing is patchy and stringy with decent stick.
S: Sweet soy sauce (It's been a while...), prunes, raisins, and other dry dark fruit. Barrels are apparent but linger in the background. Also chocolate, licquorice, and brownie.
T: Sweet soy sauce and prunes. Hints of anise, chocolate, brownie, and licquorice. Bourbon barrel booziness backbone provides a great staging area for the complexities in this one. Cocoa powder towards the end with a messy finish. Aftertaste is soy sauce, chocolate, and booze.
M: Medium to full-bodied, just the right amount of carbonation, and rather smooth and oily in the palate. For 11.5%, incredibly subtle on the palate. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste.
D: Does bourbon barrel aging make everything better? I'd definitely argue against that but not in this case. Stone IRS is a great beer and this just seems infinitely better. Outstanding complexity and the barrel-aging adds a whole new dimension to this alread solid brew. A rarity but if you can, seek it out. Definitely worth the effort to try this one.
05-30-2010 15:52:13 | More by SpeedwayJim
4.22/5 rDev -5.4%
One of the beers I was really looking forward to at BREWzilla, and one of the first to taste that night. 2008 vintage.
Very dark, thick black color. The Stone reps were pouring well, all of their beers had head on them which I appreciated. This one had a pretty tall dark cinnamon colored head.
Smelled like a bourbon stout all right. Decadently sweet, lots of vanilla and chocolate notes. Mild coffee. Slightly boozy in the nose. Mild oak notes and slight hints of the maltiness of the base beer.
Overall this was my second favorite bourbon stout (of the three or four) at the event. The bourbon asserts itself but balance is the name of the game here. The bourbon and oak lend lots of aid to the already wonderful IRS base beer (of which the '08 is drinking superbly on its own right now). Roasty, almost burnt maltiness with mild coffee flavors. Plenty of sweet chocolate and vanilla. Dry oakiness and bourbon flavors laced throughout.
Slightly boozy, but not as much as 11.5% could be I suppose. Light, smooth carbonation. Drank really well, and I hope I get to have an encore tasting of this some time.
10-26-2010 18:27:57 | More by Spider889
4.15/5 rDev -7%
Draft. On tap at Stub & Herbs Stone Tap Take Over night to celebrate Stone entering the MN market. 2008 vintage. Poured into a tall tulip glass a dark brown/black color with a dark reddish tinged mahagony brown head that left thick sticky lace all over the glass. The first whiff yields a strong dark chocolate aroma that fills my nose. Along with the chocolate, notes of molassess, vanilla, and slight bourbon are also evident. Medium velvety mouthfeel with ever so slight carbonation. Cocoa and chocolate are the dominant flavors along with the vanilla and bourbon. The bourbon is slight and doesn't overpower this beer. The alcohol is evident only by the warming effect it has as I drink this down. Nice, drinks way easier than it should.
03-30-2011 12:17:11 | More by kbutler1
4.4/5 rDev -1.3%
On tap poured into a mini chalice. 2008 vintage aged in Elijah Craig bourbon barrels, at the Uber tavern in Seattle, WA with UA8, review number 1,000!
Pours a super dark oily black with a very small dark brown ring of foam with a tiny bit of lacing. Nose is bourbon, light booze, and some creamy chocolate malts.
Taste is awesome, bourbon, sweet dark chocolate, alcohol is there but not overwhelming its rich and flavorful. Mouthfeel is a bit syrupy but still smooth and very tasty. Finish is sharp and oaky. Very nice beer.
10-15-2011 23:48:01 | More by kingcrowing
4.45/5 rDev -0.2%
pour was jet black, a bit thick with a nice oily appearance. little to no head.
a nice strong but well blended bourbon. sweet vanilla and roasted malt with hints of dark chocolate.
this was quite rich and bold. the bourbon blended very well with the stout. the vanilla integrated perfectly and really smoothed out and already smooth and hoppy stout. there was a bit of citrus hidden around.
very full and thick but drank easy. a bit resin like.
this was amazing, everyone was raving about it. i loved every sip and even at 11.5%, it went down stupid easy.
04-22-2011 17:20:13 | More by hooliganlife
Imperial Russian Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Stone Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 473 ratings.