Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

2,749 Reviews
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

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

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Reviews: 2,749 | Ratings: 8,355
Photo of apbarwood
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a glass of the '06 vintage and it was far and away the best stout I have ever tasted. Poured nice and dark, nearly opaque, with a perfect coffee-like foam on top that was never-ending. The smell was absolutely sensational. Loads of sweet malty flavors, chocolate, nougat, caramel, vanilla and a slight smoky aroma. One of the most powerful aromas I've ever had in a stout, it just leaped out of the glass. The taste delivered pretty much what the aroma promised. The bitterness was more pronounced in the taste but well integrated with the malt flavors. The bet way to describe it is that it tasted like a Toblerone bar, midway between milk and dark chocolate with a nougat/honey biscuity quality. Full-flavored with a nice medium body. I couldn't find anything wrong with this beer. One of the best brews I've had in my life. As I said, I've only had the '06 vintage so I'm not sure how the new vintages will compare. That being said, I would definitely like to hold on to this for a few years but I'm sure it's pretty close to perfect in it's freshest state. Absolute must try.

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Photo of pumptrick
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Been my favorite for years and now reviewing it. Lourdes into reidel stemless dark black little brown head. Beautiful to look into. Smells of roasty goodness. Tastes of roasty chocalte and coffe. Bitterness is there along with the alcohol. I love this beer and could put down several. My closet thanks me. Cheers

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Photo of MrVonzipper
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the first perfect score I've given. The only reason I'm giving a perfect score is because I have had this beer several times over the last few years since it has been released. It has been a phenomenal beer every time. This is a beer that should be in the top 15 beers on the top 100.

Pitch black. Nice thick foamy khaki-light brown head. Low to medium retention and lacing. 

Rich great nose deep notes of oak, bourbon, chocolate, coffee.

Amazing full flavor. Its along thr lines if the nose yet intensified Strong coffee and chocolate, smoky oak. Great balance, variation and deep rich flavor.

Mouthfeel is slightly dry and full bodied with medium carbonation

Overall this is just an outstanding Russian Imperial. Stone continues every year to just kill it with this one. I may not be the most difficult RIS to find but it dominates many highly regarded and ultra limited releases of this style.

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Photo of nortmand
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours black black black. Half inch of mocha brown head lingers for a long while.

Chocolate roast dominates the smell. Some winey raisin scents as well. Incredible.

Dominating flavor. Sweet chocolate, bitter roast. Caramel, raisins, alcohol. Huge, yet so damn refined. Better than the best wine hands down. Absolutely fantastic.

Smooth and silky on the tongue, incedibly tasty and very drinkable. A finely crafted ale.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of mrpicklerelish, big up.

Appearance: Dark, dark, opaque black-brown with a cocoa-brown head that fell to just a ring.

Smell: Wow. First, full-on raisins and spice. Then intermingling aromas of unidentifiable dark fruits, molasses, chocolate, burnt brown sugar, burnt sticky buns. Unbelievable. Very similar to an aged Storm King Stout. The benchmark for what an imperial stout should smell like. Perfect.

Taste: Yow. I can barely put this into words. Bittersweet dark chocolate, sweet but burnt raisins, prunes and other dark, ripe fruits, wickedly spicy, burnt syrupy pastries, with a mouth-drying, bitter finish that's preceded by an enormous burn from the hops and high ABV. Like its smell, perfect. I feel privileged to have tried this.

Mouth: Full, silky and smooth. Light carbonation keeps the tongue awake. ABV warms the tongue nicely and gradually. Exactly how one of the best should feel.

Drinkability: So amazing that I was in a constant battle with myself over whether or not I should keep taking massive gulps or sip it quietly. It's the kind of beer that grabs your attention and blocks out the rest of the world for you. I had but bottle and now it's gone. I want to cry.

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Photo of dvanhandel
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Truly a Czar of beers. Pours like black Siberian crude. Leaves all other stones turned. A royalty that puts even Mr. Smith on the defensive. This beer has the power to command your attention. Afore all to God in Heaven - Hail! And to our Czar on earth - Hail!

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Photo of xboxhueg
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Best RIS I've had to date..absolutely awesome. BIG coffee and chocolate aromas and on the palate. A lot less bitter than I was expecting, very smooth and alcohol is very suppressed. Even at the edges of the glass this beer is pitch black. I'm going to go back to the totalwine and pick up a's that good.

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Photo of Armand
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber. Have had the chance to try a 2007 on tap. Man, yummy. Is that still a word? Yummy.

A - Pours solid black, with thin brown head

S - Strong coffee-chocolate...mocha, with some spiciness that just kicked-ass.

T - Bold and chocolate with some spice and mocha hint. Strong coffee was present.

M - Went down great and is a full body beer.

O - Overall can't wait to do a vertical from '05 to present.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into an Imperial Pint. 10.5% ABV, "Age at Cellar temp 55 degrees or below", "Ages especially well.", "Limited Spring 2009 Release."

A - The pour is clear and quiet. In the glass it's almost pitch black with scant hints of color at the very bottom. The head is a dark mocha tan and packed with big bubbles. Despite it's small stature, it was retained very well. Thin lace covered the glass when the foam dropped to a creamy layer.

S - The nose bursts with potent, intricate roasted malts. Light coffee weaves in and out of dark chocolate that's drizzled with molasses. Black cherries and raisins add a low and dark fruity nature to this imperial stout. A rich caramel malt sweetness gives a good balance to the exceptional nose. Some toffee, mocha, and vanilla notes also aid in the massive complexity of this amazing nose.

T - Thick, robust roasted malts coat the tongue in a beautiful malty glory. Like the aroma, the flavor is vastly complex. Molasses, chocolate chunks, coffee bean, caramel cube, and a toasted bread malt flavor make up much of what I get. Then toffee, mocha, and vanilla bean all wander in like a dribble of coffee creamer. The potent alcohol that's noticeable instantly on the first sip, just seems to fade away. This is one of the most exceptional flavors I've had the pleasure of tasting.

M - Rich and chewy, it's a beyond-full-bodied brew that coats the throat all the way down like syrup. The carbonation is perfectly balanced to deliver a smooth drinking experience. With it being low, it also explains the lack of a larger head.

D - Between the flavor and mouthfeel...well, hell...every aspect of this beer, it's probably one of, if not THE, best beers I've ever had in my life. And for the price, it's damn near impossible to beat. I want to buy a case and I want to buy it now.

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Photo of hyuga
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 vintage:

All I have to say is that collectively, Stone's imperial stout is my favorite of all imperial stouts.

2002 vintage:

Much more hoppy than the 2001, the roasted and caramel malts are both more up-front. Less complexity in the fruitiness. This one definitely benefits from more aging, but this vintage is still absolutely wonderful!

2001 vintage:

This one has been waiting for me since last year. This is the Spring 2001 release, which is labeled as "Stone Imperial Russian Stout". Pours almost like the bottle jokingly suggests, like used motor oil! This is the darkest black I've ever seen in a beer (if varying degrees of darkness in black are even possible. They seem to be, when used in describing beer, so I'll go with that). It just refuses to let light through. Creamy dark brown head, but not much of one. Still leaves some lace. What a delicious aroma! I am thoroughly impressed. Very sweet chocolate, vanilla, coffee cream, even a bit of cherry, along with underlying roasted coffee character. In one word, the aroma says "cream". Makes you want to jump right into tasting this, however, you still can't help but savor the aroma between each sip. On to the palate, very sweet malt with spicy alcohol accompaniment appears first, coating your mouth with a caramel sweetness. Roasted grain and chocolate with some hints of coffee come next. Some of what I'll call "dark fruit" flavor as well, including more cherry character. Hops don't come around much, which surprises me, this having come from Stone. This could be due to the aging. Of course, that's not at all a bad thing! As I expected, a very creamy mouthfeel. What an experience this beer is! Definitely a must-try for anyone who can get it! Great one to cellar, too.

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Photo of h0wdy
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Deep as night coloring to it!
Smell: I detected a solid whiff of licorice and I thoroughly enjoyed that.
Taste: This tastes like a winner and I actually got too much of a wide range of tastes to accurately describe it other then the taste agrees with the smell of it.
Feeling: This beverage packs a real punch to it. A nice beverage to enjoy with the end of your night.

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Photo of joezak5
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 ounce bottle purchased for $5.99 in northern NJ and enjoyed on March 16, 2008 about 11 months aged.

Appearance: Black as night is a Duvel sniffter with a densely packed tan head that will go as high as you want. The lacing is so nice it looks like you'll need to scrub it off.

Aroma: Sweet, malty coffee aromas are the overwhelming presense here. There's a little caramel essence sneaking there as well.

Mouthfeel: This is like syrup in your mouth with barely a hint of carbonation. I'm struck once again by the lacing as I sip. I sense a little anise as well The welcoming presence is all there as it's just silky smooth.

Taste: Wow. This is as smooth as any 11% beer you'll ever have. It's just a little bitter on the initial taste but is pure black malt from there on. The alcohol isn't evident until it warms you on the way down. The finishing exhale is the best toffee with a little coffee poured on top.

Drinkability: One of the best Imperial Russian Stouts from my favorite brewer. This beer makes me question how anyone can drink wine when there's a beer like this. I can't wait until this years version comes out.

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Photo of jcalabre
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! Beautiful aroma, great flavor, everything is exceptional with this beer. Another world class beer from Stone. If you enjoy your Russian Imperial Stouts with more "chocolatey" than "coffee flavor, this one is for you. Originally sampled 24 May 2002

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Photo of JayTheFinn
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

With well over 400 reviews on this one, I'm not adding anything I'm sure hasn't already been said. But after drinking Stone's Imperial Russian Stout I had to in the very least say that this is the very best stout I've ever had. The look, the smell, the taste, everything was heavenly. It poured out like coffee syrup with a scent so intense I swear smelled soy sauce. The head was thick and nearly as black as the beer. The feel was creamy soft. The taste...oh many favors danced on my tongue, I'm not good enough a writer to express them all in words...

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Photo of DookDrinkyCrow
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have heard alot about Stone Brewing Co. I searched for this beer and finally found it for 5.99 for a 22 ounce bomber. The 2008 edition.

It has a very dark, smooth appearance. The aroma is great, with coffee and chocolate. The most amazing is the roasted malt, the smell is almost as good as the taste.

This beer is great. Very sophisticated and hearty. A high alcohol content helps boost this beer above the rest.

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Photo of constahoogan
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From the Growler to my snifter, the body is pitch black with zero light penetrability joined with a light brown, camramel, dark sand dune like colored head that leaves prickly blotches of lace along the glass.
Sweet Roasted dark coffee malt, dark chocoloate and caramel accompanied by a hint of syrup on the nose. It tastes just as it smells; Chocolate-Coffee malts at the front, joined by subtle hints of maple and caramel.
The texture is almost milky, silky and very smooth. The carbonation isn't irritating at all.
Overall, this is a very solid beer for the style. I highly recommend this beer to any 'dark beer' lover. haha. cheers

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Photo of dalion037
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

***I have been drinking this stout since 2004. I have a few 2006 and 2007 bottles still in the beer cellar for a future date. I just bought the 2008 which was just released this past week. I don't care what people are saying about Dark Lord or The Abyss. The Stone RIS is the BEST RIS on the market. People are willing to say that something taste better if they think it is rare and hard to get just to brag about drink the best beer on the market but this beer is just as good, no, better than either of the other two. Find a 2006 or 2007 and have a glass and decide for yourself. If you have to, drink a fresh 2008 and see what I mean. Then you too will age a few bottle for years to come.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is crazy excellent. Poured a 12oz. (2008 spring release) bottle into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Completely opaque, black the whole way through. Has a dark foamy head, close to a coffee or chocolate milk color. The head actually has a couple levels of darkness to it. It's darker the closer it is to the liquid. Not quite, but almost has the nitro looking effect to it. The head sticks around for a little while than provides some lacing to it. It's truly a great looking beer.

The smell is equally excellent, it has a great aroma to it. Bittersweet chocolate and darker roasted coffees. I would say a bit more chocolate than coffee, but they complement each other extremely well. It's very malty and the hops are noticeable, but not overbearing by any means. I've found some RIS's to have just a burned malt smell and taste, but this almost has a toasted aroma and taste to it. If you're really looking for it you can smell a hint of alcohol, but it's gotta be at room temperature, can't really notice it otherwise. No complaints about the smell at all.

Wow does this beer taste great, completely on par with the smell. The sweet and bitter flavors complement each other absolutely perfectly. Starts off sweet and has a clean, smooth, slightly bitter finish. For such a high ABV, you don't really taste the alcohol, which seems like it could be a little dangerous. As mentioned with the smell, it has more of a toasted flavor from the malts than a burned taste. Light hop flavor at the end, burps up nice too. This beer is perfectly balanced with all flavors, as close to flawless as I've ever had.

It's full bodied but for the amount of flavors its not as thick as one would expect. Silky, smooth, with a clean bitter finish. By far the most drinkable RIS I've ever tasted.

Have two more 2008s about five 2009s and a 2010, so don't be surprised if I make some edits to this one. But just go out and get this beer, it's been a personal favorite for several years, I'm glad I finally took the time to review it!

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Photo of Freshie
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The 2006 Release. Been trying to get my hands on this for some time now. Been to a few liquor stores, a few resturants, with no luck. Finally found this at Cork's in Mansfield (which is a pretty awesome store, review to follow). After all it's chalked up to be on this site, and it's apparent ellusiveness, I wasn't sure if it would live up to expectations. Like with many Stone brews, it taught me the error of my ways.

Pours an amzingly dark colour, with tan, caramel like head.

Smells of fruit, molasses, and a kind of floral/pine. Very inviting.

Tastes reflect the aroma, with rich roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and a bit of sweet fruits, like raisins or currants. Very good.

The taste can be a whallop, but it goes down smooth. Very Drinkable.

Wow. My first perfect 5. I look forward to aging this one.

[edit] 11/11/07- True to my original review I have aged this one. And over a year since purchase it still is deserved of my only perfect 5. The aging process has made this one very smooth, with a bit more of a alcohol burn. My original review still stands, since I can't give it a 5+.

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Photo of fff
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got a growler of one of the best beers I've tried in the last few months. Poured into Imperial pint glasses.

A- Opaque black body with a perfect, sandy head. Lacing all the way down the glass.

S- Smoky coffee, chocolate.

T- Dark, smoky bite with a refreshing chocolate coffee finish. Leaves your mouth tasting like you had a shot of espresso chase a candy bar.

M- Heavy and supple, perfectly carbonated.

D- Highly drinkable beer. Heavy but not filling like most beers of this style. The next time I buy some, I'm getting a case and cracking one open every 6 months or so.

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Photo of illuminutteh
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was very dark, heavy, and thick. Probably the BEST stout I have ever tasted. I had this with a prime rib dinner and it totally made the meal for me, complimenting my rare prime rib and horseradish. This is probably not for everyone, but for stout lovers, this is definitely one to try. This one surprised me. After Drinking Beamish and Guinness for years, this one was a rare treat. lager drinkers would probably not like this. It also makes a hell of a "black and tan" for those into that sort of thing. Cheers!

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Photo of etaggie09
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is my first review in a long time. it's good to be back.

after having a smoke, i cracked open a bottle of this baby, which i had so long been waiting to try, turned on some Explosions in the Sky, and just sippied the shit outta this thing.

The first sip was exactly like experiencing your first good beer- it's perfect. There's ruby candy wine smoke with a flowery berry field vapor finish. the nose is a red wine gingerbread with cinnamon. Oh dear god! This is the best beer I have had in a long time. Has everything- good body, good carbonation, and unbelievable flavor. If you have not yet been able to experience this thing, I suggest you get a bottle as soon as you can. Stone has found a way to put transcendence in a bottle.

Note: On a second tasting, I noticed that the taste can be very similar to sherry at times. This beer is still one of the best I've ever had.

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Photo of nlmartin
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into a oversized wine goblet. Vintage 2005

Appearance: The beer pours almost a perfect black. The head was a fantastic creamed coffee coloration. Great head retention noted on the beer. The lacing is heavy tan webs down the glass.

Smell: This beer is almost perfect. The smell has loads of darkly roasted coffee and chocolates. Fruity smells float throughout the beer. There is the smell of curants, raisins soaked in rum. There is a very nice spicyness floating in the back of the smell.

Taste: This beer is true to smell. There is massive amounts of chocolatey sweetness. This sweetness is offset by loads and loads of dark char roasted coffee. Dam this is great stuff. There is a nice assortment of fruity goodness floating on all the other great stuff.

Mouthfeel: This beer is very chewy. There is just layer upon layer of great tasting stuff here. This beer is very full bodied. Thanks Stones this is a Imperial Stout that does not fuck the drinker around. I could not ask for anything else in a stout.

Drinkability: Dam this is a good beer. This is a very full bodied, very big balanced treat. Gods of Beer I love this brew!

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Photo of DogFood11
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Motor Oil appearance and pour with dark tan head that takes a while to develope and quickly fades with a bit of lacing.

The smell is outstanding. malty rich flavors, chocolatey with a touch of coffee ....mostly sweet but not overpowering. Alcohol is evident to balance the sweetness.

Taste was Oh OH sooo good...The best imperial stout I've ever tasted. while the only slight ding could be in appearance ( I personally loved the appearance but to some it may be a bit lacking in (head/retention) Syrup mouthfeel is perfect for a big stout and alcohol warming is off the charts nothing overbearing and well hidden but wow a nice cheek warming drink. God DAMN!!! every once in a while a beer is so good all I can do is cuss and emberass myself with excitement. Hey its an Imperial and lets you know all along the way. Loved this beer...Greatness from STONE.

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Photo of gordavidson
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stone IRS is absolutely stunning- worthy of the hype and my first 5.0. I cannot think of anything to make this beer better than it is.

Spring 2006 bottling.

A- Poured a black as night, thick black liquid. When held to a light, I could see no light peeking through on the edges. The head that formed was a beautiful brown head that slowly settled to a nice marbling on the surface of the liquid. Even at the very end, there was still some remnants to the head. Gorgeous.

S- Wow. I could smell this as soon as I cracked open the top. Sweet, roasted malts, chocolate, black licorice, and some cinnamon are present. Could not find any hint of alcohol in the nose.

T- Perfect balance of sweet and roastiness. Brown sugar, vanilla, oak, smokiness, chocolate, black licorice, raisin, cinnamon. There is a lot going on here. Amazing. Everything blends so well together. This is a great beer to let wander your palate. Again, no alcohol presence.

M- The carbonation level in this is perfect. Not too much to make it feel light, but just enough to enhance the flavor. Very very smooth.

D- For such a big beer in a bomber, I found myself wanting more as I polished off the bottle. This is a remarkable beer that I was very skeptical of before I cracked it open- but damn... this is liquid gold.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,355 ratings.
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