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Russian Gun Imperial Stout - Grand River Brewing

Not Rated.
Russian Gun Imperial StoutRussian Gun Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

131 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 131
Reviews: 84
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 11.38%
Wants: 5
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Grand River Brewing visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Viggo on 04-03-2009

The Russian gun (or Gun as we call it) is named after the Queens square cannon that sits downtown Galt, Cambridge. The cannon was awarded to the town of Galt for its support of the English troops during the Crimean war which ended in 1856.

That year to celebrate the victory during Victoria day the Cannon was fired at noon. The men firing the cannon successfully fired three shots however during the forth the powder prematurely exploding killing both men charring their upper bodies beyond human recognition and dismembering the arms and hands of both men; two children were lightly scratched.

We have crafted the Russian gun to commemorate this local tragedy taking the recipe from an old English recipe dating back to the early colonial times.
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Ratings: 131 | Reviews: 84 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kwjd
3.18/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with hints of red. Light tan head with a little bit of lacing. There isn't much going on in the smell. Very mild amount of roasted malt and I think I can little bit of caramel sweetness. The taste also isn't what I expect for an RIS. I get some bitterness without the taste of hops. I would have guessed this was a brown ale rather than a stout. Very thin body. There is nothing wrong with drinking this as it tastes fine, just a little weak in the flavour and body.

Photo of cratez
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

EDIT - 2011 Review: On tap at Gambrinus Bistro & Cafe in London, ON. Pours motor oil black with a thick ring of foamy tan head. Smell and taste are light coffee, unsweetened chocolate, roasted malt, vinous pit fruit, oatmeal, and a grassy-floral hop bitterness to end. The ABV packs some heat, so you need to pace carefully. Full-bodied and silky mouthfeel, spicy carbonated bite precedes a drying and astringently bitter finish. Solid complexity, I'll be grabbing this often over the winter.

Photo of allergictomacros
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pitch black with no head.

S - Sweet, fruity and a bit of a grape-y aroma.

T - Again grapes, dark fruit and quite sweet.

M - Light body and slightly astringent.

D - Interesting, but not really what I like in a RIS. Lots of fruit and not so much roast.

Photo of eat
2.93/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled at Volo's Ontario Cask Imperial Stout event. Just-off black...very dark brown in colour. Thinnest ring of head around the glass. Bits of visible sediment at the bottom.

Buttery sour dairy in the smell...diacetyl? Some caramel, roasted malt, a little coffee. Can't say I'm into the sour cream aspect.

Luckily the stout is big enough to cover up whatever spoiled milk was in the nose. Strangely, for a stout, there's quite a bit of grapefruit, especially on the finish, which I don't find to be a completely pleasant addition. Astringent and almost a little sour. Dark roasted malt. Not much character beyond the strange grapefruit finish. The alcohol only shows itself a little bit on the finish.

Feel is decent. Viscous medium body and very lightly carbonated.

I don't know about this one. Seems like this wasn't pulled off too well. I'm interested to check this out in the bottle (a new release at the LCBO) to see how it measures up. Can't say I'm too into this cask version. An odd stout.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a nonic glass. A rich, near-black brew, with an almost imperceptible brown tinge. A solid 1/2 inch tan head. Good retention and creamy sheets of lacing.

Nose of coffee, caramel, burnt toast (almost like slightly charred marshmallows). A bit of alcohol can be picked out here.

Starts off with bitter coffee, some caramel, cream/butter, dark malts, and finishes with warming alcohol and bitterness. Fairly robust, though there are certainly more potent RIS's out there.

Keeping with their tradition, this GRB brew is fairly thin, which would make it more drinkable, but it's too thin for the style. Silky, but pushing syrupy.

Not a bad stab at the RIS style. I quite enjoyed it, actually. It paired well with strawberries and chocolate for dessert. The mouthfeel was a bit off, however. Just needs a bit of tweeking.

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.42/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, opaque sable with a tan head of average thickness and persistence. Rich aroma is fruity, malty and smoky with a firm coffee undertone. Strong, smoky flavor has undertones of fruit and caramel without being too sweet. Texture is smooth, tingly and fizzy. Worth finding.

Photo of BigBry
3.92/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 ml brown bottle, label as above. Compliments of bobsy, has been stored waiting til now to be enjoyed.
Poured very dark, only the smallest amount of light could penetrate the edges. Tan head that faded to a floating cap, thin streaky lacing.
The aroma has some coffee, slightly bitter roast, and a touch of molasses sweetness. The taste has a nice mix of sweet, dark molasses and dark fruits. More bitterness in the end, from the roasted, if not charred grains. Sharp, almost astringent, like the bitter coffee in the smell. It is medium-bodied, not thin but not rich and full either. Hardly any alcohol burn. Some RISs are very rich and bold, but this one is more subdued, making it easy to drink. An interesting take on the style.

Photo of biboergosum
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer appears a solid black, with faint red tints, no head, and a small ring of beige lace around the edges of the glass. It smells of light chocolate malt, some cafe au lait, plum, and a bit of booziness as it warms. The taste is caramel malt, treacle, milk chocolate, and soft, muted alcohol. The carbonation is very low, the body full, smooth, thick, and creamy, and it finishes sweet, the silky caramel malt mixing with the mild booze warmth.

A very good, put-some-hair-on-yer-chest imperial stout - drinkable, although with a booze edge, but not overly so. However, said booze eventual effect will indeed self-limit.

Photo of oakbluff
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle via MasterSki. Pours out with a cola hue and clarity with lively carbonation. Minimal mocha head with a sparse, but fine bubble lacing. Nose- stewed fruit, vanilla, faint powdered chocolate. Taste- licorice, sweet dark fruits, oak, and roast. Initial sweetness then becomes a dry chalky, grass like bitterness on the finish. Medium bodied with an above average level of carbonation for the style. Drinkability is pretty decent for strength and style. This beer has potential with some fine tuning.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a light black color stout with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light roasted malt notes with hints of dry raisins. Taste is a balanced mix between some roasted malt with vinous notes and a dry raisin finish. Body is too thin for style with good carbonation and no signs of alcohol. Not bad and interesting side of vinous/dry raisin notes but body is too thin for style.

Photo of rhinos00
3.1/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to grub for sending another local my way. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottled April 13, 2009.

A- Pours a dark, brownish color with hints of garnet throughout. Possibly one of the lightest colored RIS's I have ever seen. Produced two fingers width of creamy, tan head. Reduced to a thin, filmed layer.

S- Getting some nice chocolate malts in there, along with some sort of sweetness...almost like molasses. There was something off putting in the aroma. The roasted characteristics almost gave it a chalk-like scent. I just couldn't get passed it.

T- Would have been higher, except for the back end of this beer. The first half was pretty standard. As it sat in the palate, definite notes of chocolate and roasted malts came forward. There is also a pleasant sweetness in the background. From here, it definitely took a bad turn. As you swallow, a chalk-like bitterness takes over, erasing all taste prior to it. Even worse, it just seems to linger on the palate. If I could cut the flavor profile in half and keep the first part, this beer wouldn't taste half bad.

M- Major disappointment here. Way too thin to be a RIS. Almost has the consistency of water. The only thing saving it from having a lower score is that while the beer is thin, it did manage to maintain some sort of silkiness.

D- Aside from issues with the second portion of each sip, this beer was pretty drinkable.

Overall, I love sampling locals and am really glad I can cross another Canadian local off my list. That being said, I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to try this again if I didn't have to.

Photo of wordemupg
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into pint glass oct14 2009

A not quite black with a big mocha head that fell to an island leaving patches of lace

S lots of espresso and some very dark chocolate

T again the dark roast coffee and chocolate are nice but I also taste a small amount of black licorice I could not smell. although the booze is well concealed you can still taste it and feel it

M not as thick as I expected but nice and creamy nonetheless

D lots of small things make this a well rounded beer. I would drink this again and for 9%alc its very easy to drink

one of the better imperial stouts I've had from Canada, I wish more brewers would make this style. thanks to wittaker for this fine beer

Photo of MeisterBurger
3.06/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Yet another horrible, cheap looking, badly designed label from Grand River. Ultimately it's what's inside the bottle that matters of course, but if there was a score for label design this would get an A for awful.

Pours jet black with a frothy tan, almost rusty orange head. Lots of big coarse bubbles. The lacing is beautiful, nice and sticky--a thin film of head retains very nicely throughout.

Surprisingly the first thing I notice isn't roastiness or malt, it's fruity esters. Raisin like. Molasses and some alcohol are present also. It's fairly subdued though. I expected more roast type aromas.

The star of this show is cold black coffee, with prune, cane sugar, caramel, chocolate and some burnt malt flavors in minor supporting roles. There's a slight grassy, spicy hop bitterness in the finish that really lingers. The finish is incredibly long. Overall it's just a tad too sweet and not roasty enough.

The mouthfeel is very much on the thin side for the style. Probably this beer's biggest weakness.

It's drinkable, as are most Russian Imperial Stouts thanks to the depth and richness of flavor, but one is enough.

Final thought: I've only had this once before, only it was on cask, where I found it flat, lifeless, boozy and I got a lot more black licorice than I did this time. Not that enjoyable. The added carbonation in the bottled version makes it much lighter and the alcohol is masked much better for some reason.

Photo of Viggo
3.89/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle.

Pours a clear dark brown, light in colour for a RIS, thin off white head forms, settles to a thin ring around the glass, a few lace spots stick. Smell is neat, lots of molasses, caramel, alcohol, some chocolate, brown sugar, dark fruit and raisin, alcohol, lightly roasty, nuts, very interesting profile. Taste is similar, big molasses character, brown sugar, caramel, dark fruit, quite sweet, bready and earthy, some light chocolate and roast, lightly spicy bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation. A pretty unique RIS, very malty compares to the strong roasty ones. It has aged pretty well, really smoothed out.

Photo of ZorPrime
3.55/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks for bobsy for this beer. Tasted on September 10, 2009 to celebrate the start of the 2009 nfl season! This bottle was bottled on April 24th, 2009.

A: Dark beer however, not pitch black. Red edges. The head is creamy and sticks to the glass so well. If this was a darker beer, the looks would be awesome.

S: On the smell side, I get licorice and dark fruits.

T: Ouch... so metallic on the first sip... doh! Later sips are way better... phew!! After a few sips, I get licorice with a good bitterness that I get from the dark fruits... As the beer warms up, I get some molasses.

M: Creamy feeling with a medium to thin bodied beer.

D: Drinkability is not great... one per session is good. I would say the drinkability is average.

Overall, this is a average to good beer. I prefer the other 2 beers I got from this brewery. I'm glad a tasted it 'tho! Not a bad drink, just that I don't think I would crave for it again...

Photo of papat444
3.16/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Derek for getting me my third Grand River beer.

Bottled April 24, 2009.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, borderline black body with a decent if not conservative tan head. Looks good.

Smell: Cocoa, coffee without the bitterness and a little sweet but everything is on the down-low though, even at a warmer temp.

Taste: Some bitter coffee, burnt a little with a small sour twinge. Tastes a little like watery coffee with. Not very imperial.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin & watery in the palate with low carbonation. It is smooth in a way but the beer feels unbalanced somehow.

Drinkability: Giving a bit of a boost for points here as the 9% ABV is really not perceptible at all making it very easy to drink. That said, i wouldn't particularly reach out again for it.

Overall: Of the three that i though i would enjoy the most, this is the one that disappointed me. Very average and not typical of an Imperial Stout, IMO.

Photo of MasterSki
3.2/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried this on-tap at the Hart House 2nd Annual Beer festival. Served in a plastic taster glass.

A - Black, with plenty of lighter browns at the fringes - a dime of foam that dissipates quickly to a ring. Kind of underwhelming.

S - Caramel malts, raisins, dark fruits - really more barleywine-esque here. Not generally what I expect from an RIS, and maybe not even an English Stout. Where is the roastiness?! That being said, the smell was nice - just not appropriate to style.

T- Harsh bitterness in the aftertaste, some brown sugar malts and dark fruits at the onset, and a bit of fusel alcohol for good measure. Meh.

M - Medium body, low carbonation. Again - not very stout-like and more typical of English barleywines or English brown ales. Still, nothing offensive; just could have been a little bit bigger to support the ABV.

D - I struggled through my taster. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either. The 9% was not particularly well hidden, and the subverted expectations soured my experience right from the start. Nowhere near as nice as Wellington RIS if you want an Ontario example of the style.

Photo of funkengruven
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got a few of these at a trip to the brewery, This poured a deep black, with a tan head that subsides, leaving some lacing and a ring around the glass. Smell is deep, molasses and roasted malt prevails here. This also carries well into the flavor, aftertaste is rather clean for the style as it doesn't linger for long. The deep flavor and overall strength of this brew make for something to be enjoyed slowly.

It's solid and decent. Worth a try.

Photo of mrmanning
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Chancey Smith's in London, ON- Deep opaque black, darker than motor oil. Nice fluffy and frothy mocha cap that laced and lasted over an hour as I sipped this beast. In the nose, lots of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts, molasses, and as it warms, there is a bit of vanilla. Tastes roasty, toasty malts, vanilla, espresso, dark chocolate and towards the end, a touch of minty hops that adds to the bitterness in the finish. Not at all boozy, and quite dry and bitter in the finish. At 9%, I sipped it, but it was a delicious beer that hid its alcohol well, and at times I wanted to take larger sips. Another solid brew from these guys.

Photo of Derek
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with chestnut highlights and a dark, tan head. The ring of retention leaves some nice leg & lace.

S: Roasted grain (coffee, nut, hints of chocolate), pleasantly fruity, woody spicing, brown sugar, with hints of tar & soy sauce.

T: Coffee, dark rye bread, licorice, figs, roasted nuts, molasses, bakers chocolate, woody spicing, good bitterness, alcohol is subtle. The Willamette hops are certainly different (they're obviously not British, but they don't have the pine and citrus of the stereotypical American varieties, maybe this is a Canadian IS?).

M: Well attenuated for its strength (I'm sure the molasses played a part in that), modest carbonation, slight roasted acidity with a drying finish.

D: I think this was at its prime after a couple months in the bottle, but I've still got a few I'll save 'til the fall/winter. Good stuff.

Photo of tpd975
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to grub for this one.

A: Pours a nice dark shade of black/brown with a pretty nice mocha colored head. Okay retentio and a solid ring of lace at the top.

S: Lots of rich sweetness coming at you mostly as molasses. Loads of dark fruit seems to melt into chocolate.

T: Nice flavors going on here. Molasses for sure. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate. Big dark fruit blast near the back end with a bit of black licorice in the finish.

M: Medium in body, pretty smooth, with okay carbonation.

D: Lots of tasty notes going on, but they just don't seem to meld as good as the world class stouts. It is not a bad beer by no means though.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled April 20, 2009. Cola-like and opaque on the pour, two finger bubbly mocha-tan head took a while to settle leaving nice, slightly sticky lace. Throughout the tasting, the head easily regenerated with a swirl. Smell of coffee beans, milk chocolate wafer, espresso. Taste is cold coffee, bakers chocolate; bitterness is pretty well balanced and palateable. Smooth, medium dry mouthfeel with low astringency, very drinkable. Long bitter finish. Alcohol very well handled. Although this RIS doesn't have anywhere near the complexity of some, it's hard to find fault with it. The only slight drawback is a kind of artificial sweetener backdrop but overall I'm very pleased with this beer and will pick it up again.

Photo of biegaman
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Russian Imperial Stouts not all need be abysmally black and incompatible with light; to be sure, Grand River's Russian Gun is very dark and largely opaque but it still affords us flashes of maroon and the odd stroke of black cherry when really well lit. It may not look quite as intimidating but it certainly looks just as appealing.

The aroma is bitter and potent like freshly brewed coffee (which it coincidentally carries a hint of). It has an ashy robustness that palpitates with notes of dark chocolate and sweet black-strap molasses. Still, there's a lot less decadence and a lot more graininess; I'm thinking this won't be over-the-top indulgent like its counterparts south of the border.

In fact, both the aroma and taste remind me a great deal of their Mill Race Mild, albeit an amped up version of course. It shares that same combination of sweet molasses and bitter cocoa powder as well as the notes of roasted nuts, dark fruits and grainy, well toasted breads. It differentiates itself with the addition of more intricate and rich notes of pipe tobacco, black coffee and anise-seed. There's also hints of cinnamon and wood spice.

Even though the flavours are themselves rich, the beer is not. It is medium-bodied, carries a hint of lactose and those aforementioned flavours flee the scene fast leaving little remnant other than astringent hops, roast graininess and a stale coffee aftertaste. This offers nowhere near the level of rich, sweet or succulent 'dark chocolate caramel coffee cake' flavour that most craft drinkers have likely become accustom to by now.

But that is not to write the beer off. In fact, I bet there will be a referendum on this offering: those who like their Imperial Stouts rich, excessive and decadently indulgent will vote one way; those who can still appreciate an Old World tempered RIS that is better suited to session than snifter will vote another. If you like the former look further south. If you like the latter then this stout is one you'll undoubtedly enjoy.

Photo of drinkininthewood
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the brewery. Bottled on april 14th.

Served into a Guinness glass.

A - Very nice black color with deep red hues. Nice brown head sticks. Some lace.

S - burnt/roasted malt, Coffee, hints of dark fruit.

T- Is as the aroma suggested, fairly roasty, with strong flavors of black coffee and dark chocolate,
nuts, dark fruit ( raisins figs etc ) some sweet candy like flavors. Bittersweet finish.

M - body is on the lighter side of medium, with appropriate carbonation for the style.

D - Tasty beer good for sipping.

Overall a pretty good RIS with room for improvement. Im gonna keep a couple bottles around till the Christmas season.

Photo of Slatetank
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to grub for the trade! shared this w/ my bro tenderbranson69. Poured chilled from the 500 ml iinto a nonic

A - dark translucent brown w/ a creamy smooth topped head. The color is dark caramel and the lace clings well the bead is fine.

S - A mix of sweet and sour notes, malty scents w/ woody note and mild vinous odor w/ hints of raisin

M - A mostly sweet feel w/ light roasted texture and gentle yeast w/ slickness and moderate carbonation level

T - A deep roasty, beefy malt taste w/ a creamy cocoa flavor and hints of molasses w/ mild pine hop flavor. There is dark brown sugar in the taste w/ a nice subtle caramel malt taste. The dark toasted malt is crisp w/ a clean roasted flavor. The notes of bready yeast are complemented by gentle nuttiness.

D - This is a fine Imperial stout. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of drinking and very quaffable for the 9% it packs. I would certainly recommend this if you see it. I enjoyed the freshness since the bottled on date was April 14, 2009.

Russian Gun Imperial Stout from Grand River Brewing
83 out of 100 based on 131 ratings.