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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,749 | Ratings: 8,355
Photo of asmangat
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Revisiting 2004 vintage in November 2014.

A: consistent with current vintage but lacing is darker.
S: predominantly chocolate, marshmallow, with a lot of dark fruit.
T: Deliciously sweet, chocolatey, almost alcohol burn whatsoever.
M: Very rich mouthfeel that lingers beautifully.
O: Aging for this long seems definitely worthwhile. For some reason its way better than 2005 IMHO.

Can't ask for anything more in a Russian Imperial Stout!

 460 characters

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

This was a very tough decision to make. Should any beer be worthy of perfect 5's? Finally, I decided that it wasn't fair to Stone to deduct a point somewhere just because there should be no such thing as a perfect beer. After tasting this, I think I may have been wrong. I honestly don't think any imperial stout could top this. Jet black in color with a thin tan head that just seems to hang around for an eternity. Roasted coffee is dominant in both the aroma and the taste. There are also traces of plums and raisins. What more can I say? As far as this particular style goes, I don't think you can top this.

 611 characters

Photo of SteveO1231
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 Release. A going away gift from goodbyeohio. Thanks Sloppy Jimbo!

Pours an impenetrable black with a dark foamy head. As is settles it begins to look like a splash of heavy cream in a cup of fresh coffee, just before the stir.

Great malt aroma, bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, toffee, some prune/grape aroma from dark caramel malts and three years of aging.

Full bodied, creamy fluffy texture, leaves a slick syrupy texture on the palate. The abv numbs the palate a bit and warms the belly. Mmmm.

Lots of malty sweetness, prune super dark chocolate and molasses. Huge roasted character really balances the sweetness well. Bitter espresso aftertaste. Really very good, very strong, almost a dessert.

Aged this beer is much more approachable and enjoyable than it is super fresh, the hops mellow a bit giving way to lots of chocolate and roasted flavors.

Perfect RIS!


 894 characters

Photo of mitchfor3
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2006 Vintage.

Damn. Near. Perfect.

What a beer. The 11% is at once devastatingly present, yet highly drinkable. This beer took the greatest aspects of my favorite RISs and put them into one. Part Old Rasputin, part Storm King, the list goes on, but none of the other fantastic beers in this category combine such incredible depth and complexity with such amazing drinkability. I really can't wait to see how this one tastes in a year or two.

My first perfect score, and a well deserved one.

Side note: This beer caused me to reflect on Stone's lineup and really grasp how incredible of a brewery it is. Stone just overtook the top spot in my book. RIS, Oaked Bastard, Old Guardian, Smoked Porter, IPA, Ruination, Levitation, Pale Ale. Every one of them outstanding.

 778 characters

Photo of guinnessman
5/5  rDev +15.2%
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

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

On tap at Beechwood. 2007 Stone RIS, 3 glasses and still trying to find more. My girl enjoyed a sip of mine, ordered a few as well, she doesn't usually drink stouts. She actually made a comment a few days later saying how good that beer was. If you can get it, get it now, hopefully I can beat you to wherever it is.

 316 characters

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

Flying Saucer had 2007 Stone IRS on tap. I knew it was going to be a long night immediately. There was no way I could pass up on this beer. I ordered myself one and sat there for a moment, just staring at the black, beautiful color of the beer. The aroma reached my nose from a distance. I sat there for a few good minutes, just smelling the beer. I'm sure the people around me thought I was crazy, but the beertenders knew what I was up to. One of them came up to me and said, "enjoy it while you can, cause it will be gone soon."
Hesitantly, I took the first sip and sank into catatonia.

Great appearance, great aroma, great taste, drink it while you can!

 659 characters

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

It pours an impassably dark, inky celestial black, no light escaping, not even a glint, maybe even capturing neutrinos. A figner of brown mousse foam slides up, then down to froth on a pool of crude. Twisty lacing dances along the inside of the glass.

The aroma is almost as dark as the hue, with an edge of charred malt, Turkish coffee, black cherry, glove leather, and port. The merest hint of a hoppy bite is quickly inundated by a muscular current of alcohol.

Upon sipping, there charges a crispy bitter scarp of darkly roasted malt, the sugars deeply caramelized to an earthy snap. Still, a curl of dark fruit sweetness drifts through, along with an alcohol-driven vinous character. Coffee and dark chocolate come about, as well as a slight biscuit note. Residual malt and late-arriving hops combine to deliver a long and memorable bitter legacy. Complex and fundamental, blended and revealing, earthy and rich, it's all that, and a bit more.

Full bodied, it caresses the palate, thick and coating, bordering on chewy, a sinewy and soft glaze for the tongue.

If the finest, plushest velvet was a beer, it may just be this one. Big, full, rich, lustrous, sumptuous-if I enjoyed this any more, the experience might become sexual. Wonderfully complex, it's so artfully blended that it's never a challenge, or too busy. The ABV is a kick, but it's too damned hard to care about that, at least until morning. If I had enough, I'd fill a tub with this beer and bathe in it, and then drink the tub dry. Well, ok...enough of that...let's just say, this is real close to as good as it gets.

 1,604 characters

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

22 oz bottle. "Late Spring 2003 Limited Release". Pours black with a thin dark brown head. Thick lacing. The aroma consists of chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and has a pleasant overall sweetness to it. Full-bodied mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy. Almost chewy. Flavors of molasses and honey covered chocolate roll ever-so-sweetly over the tongue. Taste turns a bit vinous at times with flavors of plum and raisin. Finishes up with a mildly balanced hop bitterness that adds another delightful level of complexity. Behind all this goodness, veiled in the shadows of the blackness, lurks an ass-kicking 9.47% alcohol. By the time you notice it, it's too late.

There are very few beers that linger in my mind days after consumption begging to be had again. Stone Imperial is one that's been tough to get out of my head. This could quite possibly be the ultimate Imperial Stout.

 880 characters

Photo of dabarton
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Cask Conditioned 2 Years:
Cask-conditioned for 2 years at Deep Ellum in Boston. Thick and syrupy 8 ox pour into a straight glass. Rich, complex, and outstanding, this beer just about knocked me off my stool with how good it was. The high alcohol content after 2 years of aging made it quite dense, but decidedly an incredible sipping beer.

I have not yet had a young version.

 376 characters

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

Acquired in a beer trade.
Bottle states limited early summer 2005 release.
Poured from a bomber into snifter glass at almost room temperature.
Stone bombers are the coolest looking bottles I've seen, their gargoyle kicks ass!!!!

Appearance: O.K., here we go!!! First off, this beer is deep, dark black color, with a one inch thick creamy tan head. It has an inviting look about it. Some delicate tan lacing clings to my glass, but disappears after a few minutes.

Smell: Very balanced aromas of coffee, chocolate and dark fruits, like raisins or plums. Smells like what an Imperial stout should be.

Taste: Holy Crap!!! What an awesome taste!!! I already cannot wait to get more of this brew!!! So well balanced, it taste like it smells, coffee, chocolate and dark fruits. Roasted malts and hops are blended perfectly!! I wouldn't know this has an abv of 10.8%.

Mouthfeel: I must say this stout has the best mouthfeel of any beer I've tasted. Very creamy, not too heavy, not too thin, absolutely perfect!!!

Drinkablility: Even though this brew is 10.8% alcohol, it doesn't hit you too hard. It's hidden very well and the taste leaves you wanting more!!! Also, I've drank about half the bomber already, and I do not feel full at all!!!

Overall this beer lives up to its hipe!!!! This is the first beer that I can honestly say is worthy of a perfect score!! The only downfall is that Stone is not sold in MIchigan yet. So, I'll keep trading or make many trips to Toledo to pick my new favorite beer!

 1,517 characters

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

2011 Bottled on 5 May 2011.

a-dark as sin, this beer has a tannish brown head. Beer pours out of the bottle like 10W50, and the malts open up right away. This beer looks thick.

s-roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, yeast, coffee-espresso, hops at the end. This beer has a lot of different smells to it. Beautiful bouquet of expressive smells. Smell gets richer as the beer warms, individual aspects get eaiser to pick out.

t-WOW. This taste like sipping chocolate, with some dark roast espresso in the mix. Rolling it around on the toung gives up more of the richness to this beer. Has some warming from the 10.5% alcohol content, but it fits the style. I could see drinking this on a cold snight with snow falling and the wind blowing. This is comfort beer. Finishes with hops and roasted malts. This beer sneaks up on you with the alcohol not smacking you in the chops.

m-like it should. Thick, rich, warm. Carbonation is spot on with this beer for the way it should feel in your mouth. Lots of richness here.

o-Best RIS I have ever had the opportunity to have. I am glad I have a case of these to cellar over the years. What a beer experience.

 1,150 characters

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

A: Color is dark brown, and may even look black, which will take away its transparency, as one wouldn't be able to see any light shine through the glass. Clarity is black, and head is a very light tan color, which may even come off as beige.

S: The aroma comes off as coffee, or even dark chocolate, with a possible hint of nuts. Not very hoppy, nor were there any really "off odors"

T: Taste is a bit on the sweeter side with a bit of a smokey flavor. It tastes like roasted grains. Didn't really notice any "off flavors". There was a bit of a coffee, dark chocolate, and nutty taste in the beer.

M: The beer felt full bodied, and the aftertaste was strong, though did not last too long. There wasn't much CO2 or fizziness in the beer, though the beer seemed to have a stronger alcohol presence.

O: Overall, it was a solid stout. Tastes good, and was just what I expected from a stout. I enjoyed it with a good taste of coffee, dark chocolate, and maybe even dark fruits, but the nuttiness was definitely apparent.

 1,020 characters

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

Serving type: 22 oz bottle into a snifter glass, 2016 version bottled on 032316.

Pours a deep mahogany brown color when light is held up to a thinner part of the glass, though it is essentially black. Looks decadent. Aroma of roast, slight coffee, tiny amounts of anise spice, slight hoppiness, and plenty of dark chocolate. Taste reflects the smell. Initial sips reveal coffee and malt roastiness, dark chocolate, and a not over the top hoppiness. Retro-nasal reveals more of the anise and dark fruit (plum) characteristics of the beer. Feel is thick, with moderate carbonation as to not be flat, which fits the heavier notes on this beer. Overall, this is an amazing beer. Definitely buy this one as taste, aroma, and especially the price cannot be beat.

If this was ever in a 4 pack or 6 pack format, this would be my go-to RIS.

 834 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite beer on planet earth so far. Too bad it's only brewed once a year... 2010 version

A: Pitch black with an impressive khaki head

S: Big anise smell accompanies alcohol and slight burnt coffee/chocolate

T: Extremely complex, get a bunch of the burnt coffee and anise along with slight alcohol burn

M: Big and bold

D: If I could manage more than a bomber in a sitting I would, without a doubt

Now, the 2011 'classic release' version. Perception of this beer still has not changed, but my reviewing skills certainly have improved.

A: Pours a pitch black with about a fingers worth of chocolate brown head. No light is getting through this one, that's for sure

S: Very nice coffee, chocolate, burnt malts, and hints of licorice/anise

T: Very complex, starts off with a bit of dark chocolate and then goes into some coffee and anise, followed by big, roasty malts. Alcohol is somehow missing. Very impressive given the 10.5%

M: Heavy with moderate carbonation. Very slick compared to some other RIS's. Isn't clingy at all, which is a very nice surprise as well

O: This is still definitely one of my favorite beers. Just so amazingly complex and somehow too easy to finish. Now, I need to try the anise odd year version and see how it stacks up

 1,259 characters

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

I love this beer!

I generally enjoy stouts, but this one is a cut above. The color is jet black with a frothy chocolate head. The feel is thick and smooth though not overly heavy. There is significant presence of espresso, cacao beans, and roasted malts in both the aroma and flavor; this rich malty flavor balances perfectly with the hint of bitterness on the back end (and unlike with many other bitter beers I really do mean well balanced).

If this beer has a drawback it's only that it's seasonal and when I do see it sold it's mostly in giant 22oz bottles. Honestly sometimes I just don't fee like drinking 22oz. of 10% alcohol beer in one sitting.

Nice job Stone!

 672 characters

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

2004 release, sampled as soon as the bottle had chilled.

Wow. To paraphrase Homer, this is a groin-grabbingly good Imperial Stout. Despite it being summer, a lot of breweries seem to be releaseing IRS's right now. While I haven't had a bad one from anyplace, the wide sample size really allowed the Stone example to shine through. Stone has very limited distibution on the right coast, but this puppy was worth the effort to find.

Appearance - none more black. Pure ink, with a golden brown head, reminicient of the burnt topping on a good creme-brulee. Smell was fantastic, lots of complex and well balanced notes waifting through; a slightly sweet overall note. Taste and mouthfeel were nearly transcendental. Again, the complexity and balance of this brew are what set it apart from other IRS's, all the coffee, roasted/smoky, currant and buttery notes are there, but none domminate. The zen-like qualities of this brew add to the enjoyment - despite it's high ABV, this brew does not go down like a five course meal. It's very easy to sip all night long.

All in all, I can't imagine how one could improve upon this beer, other than to make it a year-round, and have more cases cross the Rockies.

 1,209 characters

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

22oz brown bomber served, bit by bit, in a snifter. 2006 Vintage.

I usually say that a beer "pours" from the bottle...but that is an understatement for a beer of this magnitude. I would say that this beer...well, disembogues from the bottle as thick Russian crude oil would from a pipeline. Coming to rest in the glass, it sits thicker and blacker than any beer I have laid eyes upon...the minimal head is a dark coffee color. As it sits in my snifter, it actually bubbles and churns as would the brew in a witch's cauldron. I'm almost afraid to take a sip.

So, for the moment, I take a sniff instead. Holy moly. Coffee, dark chocolate, prunes, molasses, brown sugar, bread dough, some earthy tones, a clean sweetness and slight but sharp background alcohol actually tingles the inside of my nose when I take a deep sniff.

How can I refuse a sip after this nasal fiesta? The first thing that rushes across my tongue is a rich creamy sweetness, which is rapidly followed by a building of molasses and semi-sweet chocolate bitter sweetness on the middle tongue. As the beer settles across the back of the tongue an intense coffee and dark chocolate bitterness flows forward to envelope the palate and rises upwards to fill the nose. Upon swallow, a slow and long lasting alcohol warmth fills the throat and the bitterness rolls back to a semi-bitter dark chocolate that plays with the back of the tongue for many minutes. The mouthfeel of this beer is thick and syrupy, with just enough tingle of carbonation, both of which do nothing but accentuate the flavors.

All in all...easily the best Imperial Stout I have ever had. The best beer ever? Well, I do like a balanced brew, and on that end this could use some cellar time to mellow, but honestly, I also love a big, in your face brew from time to time, and I have never, ever, never, ever had a brew this big and in your face. I loved every sip of it and would open more, if I weren't saving it for future tasting. Yeah, fantastic definitely belongs where it is on the Best of BA list, and recognition as my first every solid 5 rating.

 2,119 characters

Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dep dark black with a chocolate/coffe colored head. Aromas has hints of roasted malts, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate. Full bodied with a lot of roasted malt flavor. Also, chocolate, alcohol(not overpowering thought), and roasted coffe flavor. One of the best stouts I've ever tasted. Excellent!

 303 characters

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

My first 5 and usually i never really freak out about a beer but DAMN!!! Bottle was a limited 2007 release that i aged for about 4 months (i just couldn't wait anymore) poured into a standard pint glass and ejoyed while watching old ECW tapes. Pored black as night and motor oil like, just from the pour you know you are in for a good one. Taste was nice and malty just all around great beer if you can find it buy as many as you can carry and store a few for a bit to get maxium flavor out of it.

 497 characters

Photo of 1santore
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All I can say about this beer is WOW!! It pours thick and black. The smell is just a wonderful blend of coffee and chocolate. The smell alone is enough to win me over. I had a 22 oz. bomber. The first glass I drank chilled, but recomend letting it warm as I did with my second glass. It really brings all of the flavors out. As far as I'm concerned the best Russian Stout out there.

 382 characters

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

06 on tap at the brewery.
The beer that revitalized my desire to drink beer. I was considering going on a long term beer break until I went to the brewery and had this world class beer. I had the 08 spring version out of a bottle and it was not half as good. This masterpiece was meant for cellaring. The oaked arrogant bastard was amazing, but this blew me away.
Revels in the darkest shade of black. The aromas can't be contained. The flavors are so complex I can't begin to identify them. The basic ones I taste are velvety chocolate, coffee, and fruity notes. The 10.8 has to be a misprint since I'm pretty sure I ordered a beer and not a heavenly chocolate shake. There's a thick, endless stickiness that coats the mouth.
Thank you stone for making me a believer.

 770 characters

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

A: Oily flat black with a dark brown head. Some lacing

S: Roasted coffee and malts, dark chocolate and alcohol. There are slight notes of dark fruits but they're masked by the huge coffee and chocolate aroma. Fruity scent still clear and apparent though.

T: Huge rich coffee taste and huge bittersweet dark chocolate. On the more malty and sweet side than anything else. After the initial swallow the dark fruits come to be more present. The 10.5% abv is not as harsh as other 10%'s i've had, especially because of the heavy emphasis on the smooth malty flavor in the beer. Exceptionally well balanced.

M: Extraordinarily smooth, very full bodied, medium carbonation. As syrupy and oily as the BP oil spill... but not as overwhelming HA.

D: Terrifyingly outstanding. A perfect brew.

 786 characters

Photo of Dave1999
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black with a nice big foamy light brown head.

The smell is dark malts and chocolate. As the beer warms up I smell ginger bread and spices.

The taste is much like the smell sweet dark malts, dark chocolate, pretty sweet with very little bitterness. There is a small amount of alcohol as the beer warms up but it's not unpleasant at all and at 10.5 abv it's not too much.

The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with medium carbonation.

This beer is fantastic, everything about it is delicious. I'd say this is just as good as ten fidy. I'd recommend this to anyone. It's so easy drink at such a high abv you have to remember to drink slowly.

 650 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.