Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

2,748 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: 2,748 | Ratings: 8,352
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2006 release poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brownish black, with a thick brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: It has a rich coffee roast & dark chocolate aroma with a little bit of hops & alcohol. The smell has a robust quality to it that lets you know right away that this beer doesn’t mess around.

T: The taste is an excellently balanced, rich flavor of coffee & chocolate, roasted malt and a touch of hops. As Stone does so well, it’s not overly sweet, but not bitter and STILL masks the 10.80% ABV.

M: Full-bodied, extremely smooth, medium carbonation, leaves a clean finish without any syrupy or oily residue which I would attribute to the fact that the sweetness isn’t excessive.

D: This beer is treacherously drinkable because it’s so smooth & tasty and the ABV is well hidden in the taste. It also is not filling unlike other stouts that I’ve had. Given all of that, this beer can do some heavy damage if you go with it for some time. Unfortunately for me, I won’t be able to test myself beyond the one bomber that I had.

This is an excellent beer. I know that by the time I make it back to the store where I got this beer, it will all be gone. While I consider myself lucky to have gotten the beer, I’m cursing myself for not buying more of it. I guess I learned my lesson for next year.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

(2005 Vintage)

Appearance: Oh my, yes. Pours out a rich, inticing jet black body. The foamy tan-colored head recedes quickly.

Smell: The welcome aroma delivers a sweet scent filled with rich espresso, roasted barley, molasses, and anise. A soft scent of port wine can also be found here. Lastly, an inspiriting alcohol vapor fills the nose.

Taste: While tasting this beer I scribbled some complimentary notes down on a notepad, but didn't get all of them because I went through the world's entire supply of ink and paper in the process.

The world's entire supply of ink and paper, I said.

That said, this brew is tremendously malty, with sharp notes of coffee and chocolate. Undertones of vanilla and molasses are present as well. Hop flavor is gentle, barely peeking through the immense gamut of flavors present. Yes, the alcohol is apparent, but quite soothing.

The long finish leaves a sustaining roasted flavor on the tongue. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and quite chewy at times, while maintaining an unequaled velvety texture.

Drinkability: The very best RIS I've tasted yet.

So, yeah, I liked it. I had very high expectations for this beer, and it met every single one of them.


(My thanks to AndoBrew for sharing this one with me.)

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Late Spring 2003 release. Glossy sable. No highlights, no edges, no nothing. It isn't possible for a beer to be more light nullifying than this one is. The head is one of the darkest that I've ever seen. It's a menacing shade of cocoa brown, the perfect color compliment to the beer on which it rests. It also puts the lie to the notion that high-ABV beer tends not to have large, persistent heads. Even though there isn't a glass smothering amount of lace, there's more than enough not to spoil a world-class appearance.

The nose is outstanding. It practically oozes heavily roasted black malt with all of the aromas that go along with it. Bittersweet chocolate fudge swirls around chunks of crushed coffee bean with generous lashings of molasses. The faintest hint of alcohol is more than welcome since it gives the aroma a seriousness that all good RISs possess. Perhaps nearly three years in the bottle is a bit too long to expect hops to persevere. However, I still have hope that they'll make a cameo on the palate.

Stone RIS is phenomenal! It's everything that I had hoped for and so much more. I have never experienced a more mind-blowing, darkly delicious, megaton malt bomb in my life. First and foremost, it possesses a monolithic malt backbone that gives granite an inferiority complex. Rivulets of melted chocolate, espresso, blackstrap molasses and the finest ouzo combine to create a raging river of mouthfilling (and belly warming) bliss.

The hops haven't completely faded, although I'm sure they're a shadow of their former 2003 selves. As is usually the case, they make an appearance on the finish when the malt deluge has finally begun to abate. I'd love to taste this beer fresh, but I have to say that it's an ass kicker of the highest order when aged. It's amazing how long the flavor lingers. The licorice/anise/ouzo hangs on seemingly forever.

This particular vintage clocks in at 9.47% and it feels every bit of that (even if it doesn't taste like it). This is a beer that is brewed to be sipped. It's doing an admirable job of warming me up, which I needed since I just came in from snowblowing half a foot of snow off my driveway. Each mouthful leads me to thank the boys at Stone for such an incredible beer. Although I don't usually buy in cases, this is a 'case beer' if there ever was one.

The mouthfeel is, in a word, perfection. It's as if the brewers read my mind and designed it especially for me. I've had thicker Imperial Stouts, but none that possessed this degree of heavy silkiness. Try as I might, I cannot find a flaw. Perfect mouth presence, perfect coating finish, just... plain... perfect.

SIRS is Stone's finest creation and is infinitely deserving of a place in the pantheon of the greatest beers ever created. I've run out of adjectives for 'great', but I haven't quite run out of beer. So if you'll excuse me, it's time to savor the final few swallows. Stone Russian Imperial Stout is a tour de force and is the finest stout in existence, bar none.

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Photo of billab914
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my very appropriate Stone RIS glass. It poured pitch black with a modest tan head filling the rest of the glass. The head faded to a thin ring around the edge of the glass where it left some moderate lacing.

The aroma is full of chocolate and roasted malts. The roasted malts bring a bitter, slightly burnt flavor along with some coffee and the chocolate really smooths it out. A bit of vanilla is present in it as well. Very flavorful aroma to it overall.

The taste shows a pretty big dark chocolate flavor to it. It's bitter-sweet at first but more of the dark and roasted malts come through towards the finish. Some coffee and burnt flavors come through as well. it has a great mix of the sweeter chocolate and malty flavors and the bitter and roasted flavors. Great beer overall for the style.

The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with carbonation being on the lower side. Very nice for the style and just how I like my big stouts. Drinkability is good, it was a very flavorful with a lot of very good flavors all coming together nicely. Excellent beer overall.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.44/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mikesgroove for sending me this bottle, 2008 vintage!

A: Poured into a DFH snifter. Pours very dark black, can see no light through it at all. Small mocha head forms and dissipates quickly leaving a ring of foam around the edge.

S: Tons of chocolate, I can smell it without even bringing the beer to my nose, it almost has a chocolate milk aroma, some lactose mixed in with the cocoa. A also get a little bit of mint at the end.

T: Wow. The flavor is amazing, I am kicking myself for not getting any of this beer sooner. Very similar to the aroma, the chocolate flavor is massive and extremely rich. There is a little bit of coffee and a touch of dark fruit, but the chocolate dominates..and that makes me happy.

M/D: Definitely fuller bodied, very creamy, and no trace of the alcohol after sitting for a couple of years. Overall, one of the best in the style I have had. Going to head and out and pick some up to age I think.

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Photo of russpowell
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 version; slightly better than last years

Pours mahogany/jet black with 3 fingers of mocha head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Coccoa & toasted grains; fades as this warms

T: Chocoalte, troasted grain, & a wee bit of iron. Smokeyness follows as this warms along with baker's choclate, & little warming feel. Mocha milk shake, warming notes, roastyness, & dryness are all in the finish.

MF: Rich with great balance & minimal carbonation

Good drinker as long as you don't mind an early night! Great dessert beer & maybe one to session on your tolerance is built up; just kidding!

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to unclejedi for the bottle!

Poured a deep black, opaque, no light through this baby! Creamy head gave way to some crazy brown lace, couldn''t hardly see through the glass! Nuts looking dripping down the glass. Black as night this was. The smell, holy crap, CHOCOLATE. I thought I was sniffing hershey, the chocolate smell was so overpowering, my wife could smell it next to me. As it warmed, hints of coffee and alcohol tingled the nose. Taste started out with coffee, sugary caramel sweetness, hints of chocolate, not as pronounced as the smell. There is a definate alcohol warming on this one, definate, but is is very good. Fel is very thick, almost shake like, very good RIS, very nice and another hit from stone, I thoroughly enjoyed this and can only hope to have another one day!

2008 Update

Finally got a hold of this years IRS from Stone. Needless to say, I was happy to see this one show up on my doorstep, as you could always rest assured you were going to have a top quality brew on your hands with this one. The pour was just as to be expected. A deep dark black liquid, that was completely opaque. A big three finger high head of tan colored lace was stretched over the top and took a good long while to finally settle down. Once it did, there was still a good-sized head on top that stayed around an inch high for the rest of the session. Very nice side glass presentation left lots of brown foam all over the glass. Your classic big stout.

The aroma was full and rich, and very sweet. Lots of lactose and cocoa hints were rippling throughout. The aroma of fresh roasted coffee provided some bitterness and a touch of depth to it, as did the hint of alcohol that was all over the back of this one. The flavor followed it along perfectly. Very big and rich, with a deep layer of chocolate and coffee that provided the bulk of the flavor here. The alcohol was a bit hot at first, but given time to warm up to room temperature, it turned into a wonderfully big and mellow stout. The finish had a nice touch of bitterness to it, and the slightest bit of hops dried you out and left you with a long drawn out flavor of sugar-filled coffee. Great feel on this one, with a full body that left the nice little bit of a creamy feel to it. The alcohol was hard to escape at almost 11%, but was surprisingly more mellow then you would have thought, leading this one to be a superb sipper, and perfectly tailored for the late night tasting.

Overall, I thought this was very good, and definitely up there with some of the best in the style. A big, strong, full stout that you must respect when drinking. Do not take this one lightly, just because it is a little bit more available then some of the others, is no reason to pass it by.

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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.

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

I tasted this in Apr 2009, just gettin' around to the review-taken from notes. Poured chilled into an ale glass -2009 version.

A - Black thick appearance, great lacing the ale is opaque and has lasting head retention

S - The aroma is rich w/ malt, dark fruit, molasses, candy caramel and vanilla w/ citrus odors from hops

M - The malts have great texture that is rich w/ coffee's roastiness smooth sweetness and viscous without becoming overbearing. The texture is warm from alcohol, but within range

T - The flavor of seriously dark chocolate, roasted grain w/ sweetness of vanilla rum, flavors of currants, plum and dark brown sugar w/ toasted nuts, and cocoa powder. The flavor of hops and alcohol are noted in the tertiary flavors but the taste really lingers w/ malt intensity

D - The west coast has many RIS's that are good, but this is a standout - do not hesitate to try this like I did. I consider it a great example of the style.

Re-review 2008 version courtesy of John Michaelsen at our Stout Tasting part deux. Poured from the cool bomber into a taster and re-sampled again.
A-5 S 4.5 M 4.5 T 4.5 D 5

A - deep black, opaque ominous look with thick beige cap and lots of lace clings. The bead is tiny and retention is decent. The smell of strong roast and fruit with cocoa and a mellow spice element. The main fruit would be currant but other dark fruits come to mind w/ slight woody hop note and hints of toast. The feel is lovely, blended with spicy and roasted textures. The slight amount of alcohol in the feel adds complexity and the spice seems slightly strong with a mild bitter element in the finish.

The taste is great with chocolate bitterness and notes of pepper and currant with a light smoke and hint of toffee in the flavor. The mild cocoa and coffee is buoyed by the hop flavor which gives a slight sweet woodiness and then the toffee-molasses comes back with mild dark brown sugar taste in the finish. This is awesome aged - I think the 2008 is the best by Stone I have ever had, just ridiculously good drinkability and I want to go out and get some to age for three years now, what a treat! Thanks John!

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Photo of Jason
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber, “Limited Spring 2002 Release” on the label gives you an idea of freshness … not that it matters being that this brew is a towering 9.47% abv.

Appearance: Big pillowing foamy tan head is slow to form as the bubbles of carbonation struggle to the top of this thick crude oil black brew. The head does dissipate but the there is a lace that sticks around for the show.

Smell: The aroma is full of highly roasted coffee (French Roast), fruity esters (dried black currants), slight molasses, mild char, and vague solvent alcohol and lost of roasted grain.

Taste: Nearly syrupy from a huge malty body, carbonation is at a medium crispness with an extremely viscous mouth feel. First the flavours go sweet with maltiness are fruity flavours of black currant and prune. Malt sweetness upfront is more of a mild molasses with a deep following of roasted grain and a chocolaty backing that sticks around until the finish. Hop are thrown in for good measure but don’t seem to get in the way too much. Alcohol flexes quick with a faint solvent flavour as well as the fruitiness providing some esters for more complexity. A smoothness creeps in out of nowhere and pulls the flavours in further which saturates the taste buds. Deep within, after the brew warms up a bit there is a dark caramel flavour that sits next to beer heaven. After the initial wave of flavour there seems to be a Zen of balance as all of the flavours meld together in perfect formation. The roasted grain lingers with an endless trail cleaning up all other flavours in its wake.

Notes: Devastatingly flavourful, highly drinkable and very deceiving for a brew at 9.47% abv. This beer shows-off Stone Brewing’s prowess to take a style a bring it to a greater level than others.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black as night and thick as motor oil. About one finger of tan foam, and not any lacing to speak of.

S: Chocolate, coffee, licorice, a slight smokiness, and roasted malt. There is still some alcohol present, but that's no big surprise.

T: So much going on here. Chocolate, dark fruits (currants and plums), roasted malt, licorice, and a bit of alcohol.

M: Huge body, very thick and syrupy.

D: Despite being approximately a year old, it's still somewhat boozy. Very tasty though and it will only get better.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this while on vacation in Memphis. The color is black, head is medium brown and creamy. Head is very good considering the 10.8% ABV. The aroma is of rich, dark chocolate with slight whiffs of alcohol and roasted coffee. The taste is quite simply amazing. Rich and complex dark chocolate flavor is ruling my world here. Alcohol flavor is noted in the finish. A light roasted taste rounds this out. Another great thing about this beer is that considering the extremely full flavor and high alcohol content, Stone Imperial Russian Stout is amazingly drinkable. This is a beer that every fan needs to get their hands on. I haven't finished my bomber yet and I'm already mad that I can't get more locally. Note to Stone Brewing: Please, please, please bring your full product line to Texas.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

- Special thanks to Mark for sharing a perfectly cellared '04 version of this treat -

A - Pitch black, khaki head.

S - Vibrant vanilla, brown sugar, maple sugar, hint of booze.

T - Super smooth coffee, milk chocolate, cream.

M - No booze in the finish at all. Medium bodied with a great smoothness.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nearly opaque. Deep and ominous black. Nice tan head that sticks around for a few minutes and leaves a decent coating in it wake.

Toffee, cocoa, roasted malt, rich dark chocolate, alcohol.

Extremely rich. There are a lot of great complexities in this brew, as noted in the aroma. It's very rich and delicious, however it's also a bit hot. The alcohol, particularly in the finish, is a bit forward. This is a fresh bottle, brewed Spring 2010. I can definitely see how this beer would greatly benefit from a few years of proper cellaring.

Shockingly smooth (at first). Leaves a nice coating around the palate. Warming alcohol finish, which gets harsher as you progress through the bottle.

Alcohol becomes more and more evident as I continue to sip. This would be a good beer to split, perhaps several ways. I had trouble making it through the bomber by myself.

Notes: I understand that this beer improves with age, but so do a lot of beers. I just don't understand why this beer has such a high rating. There was never a moment when I was really moved by the taste of Stone IRS.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.54/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance - Pitch black body. No transparency at all. Not too viscous looking as it pours, but it stains the glass as I swirl it. Nice tan head, but it doesn't leave a tremendous amount of lace.

Smell - Wow, chocolate and coffee. And none added? That's amazing. I've tasted coffee stouts with less coffee aroma than this. Great roasted malt character. Maybe a bit of hops coming through at the end.

Taste - Again, a strong chocolate and coffee flavor. An interesting sweetness persists through the drink, but gives way to a nice hop back. Not overly hopped, like Old Rasputin, but just a nice bitter finish. Very nice.

Mouthfeel - Not quite as viscous as I thought it would be. I like my giant stouts to be a bit chewy. This one goes down VERY smooth, with just a hint of alcohol burn.

Overall - Just outstanding. I bought 6 bottles and I think I need to go back and buy more.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Before I start my usual hyping up of the Stone Brewery, just stop me and leave the house and seek out this beer. This is not just any beer this is a beer to be experienced and relived annually like a tradition, only it saddens me to think about the batches from the last two years that have escaped me. This is the 2003 limited spring release, and I am in heaven simply heaven. Pours like crude oil (according to the bottle, but you must see it for yourself), honestly this beer is viscous and opaque it eats up the light that attempts to shine through it. Dark black body with the pleasant thin moccha toned head floating atop of this dark abyss. The aroma contains layers of light milk chocolate tones, dark roasted barley malt, hints of anise in the background, deep plum or any overly ripened fruit in a light brandy liquer all topped off with a light hopping of signature Stone hops to boast it's west coast roots along with an underlying nose of alcohol gracing my olfactory nerves. As the temperature rises so does the amount of alochol that shines through in the flavor of this classic Imperial Russian Stout. A creamy based chocolate/coffe presence along with sweet buttery notes that elegantly dance on my palate. An overall warming effect creates a sense of ecstasy, with notes of fruit tones and acohol notes that are in one word heavenly. Mouthfeel is full and heavy syrup esque, but goes down suprisingly very smoothly. Low carbonation that complements the overall quality of this beer, and definitely a one bottle at a time experience no session beer found here and none wanted from an Imperial Stout of any kind.

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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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Photo of johnnnniee
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid black with a thin tan head that dissipates quickly, but laces the edge on the way down. Aroma is of chocolates and roasted malts with a touch of alcohol. Taste is more roasted malts, chocolate, some dark dried fruits and a touch of alcohol. Mouthfeel is very creamy, Full body, ample carbonation. This is another excellent brew from Stone.

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Photo of tdm168
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1000th review!!

Bomber poured into a snifter.

A - pours like slick oil; pitch black in color with a soft, brown head that is short-lived

S - chocolate, black licorice, alcohol, anise, roasted malts

T - rich chocolate, a hint of vanilla, roasted malts, black licorice, alcohol

M - full bodied, big alcohol warmth, smooth, good carbonation

This is a pretty amazing Russian Imperial Stout even if it is a bit boozy. The alcohol is prevalent, but the chocolate notes are creamy and rich. It's a pretty solid offering that's worth checking out.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black. Tan head slowly falls leaving a lot of lacing. Very slightly roasted earthy malts. Molasses tones. Flavor is just beautiful. And amazing. Thick malt tones. Just so robust and consistent. Alcohol doesn't seem to show up at all. Feel is amazing on the liquid. Extremely drinkable. A RIS that sits at 10.8& alcohol? Easily could be a recipe for disaster, but this just comes out magnificently. Easily one of the best beers ever created, IMO. If you haven't had a chance to try it yet, I really hope you get one.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.46/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter, 2011 Classic Release.

A very large head and classic cocoa like light brown head is formed. Head has got some staying power. Body is a good dark nearly black super dark brown appearance of classic walnut. Very nice sheeny lacing that is spotty with a hint of legs. Very nice looking beer here.

First whiff and bouquet is a shock. That smell first is manure, earthy, and not in a pleasant this is great terroir way. This smells like (you know). Afterwards is a whisp of airy malt and roast but some dry spices. Earthy feeling subsides a bit, but the first whiff was not pleasant but seems to disappear in the background. Pouring more and opening it up brings back what I call "the stench".

Taste is odd. Salty. In fact it is EXTREMELY salty, with hints of roast and malt burnt character. Burnt char on the swallow and much taste of carbon as well. Body is a little wet which is surprising for the high ABV. More sips lets the salty jerky meat quality subside, bringing out this bigger carbon like palate.

This is quite a disappointment but it's so far the biggest char tasting Russian Imperial I've had to date. However, it seems like I've had so many better ones before I just can't see what the big deal is. Where's the variety? Where's the punch? Where's the body? Where is that so called angry Stone kick? Not here... this is not for me at all.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,352 ratings.
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