Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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2,716 Reviews
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States | website

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: 2,716 | Ratings: 8,269
Photo of tastybeer
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

As black as it gets, with an inviting warm brown head. Ring forms for the duration and leaves bits of lace about the glass. Aroma of sweet roasted caramel, espresso, burnt black fruits, and extra dark bittersweet chocolate. Taste is loaded with constant luscious awesome. Burnt roasted coffee bean, velvety cocoa, sun ripened raisons, cherries, rasberries, plums, black grapes, and the list goes on. Hop character peels through the density giving an added variety to the sea of dark beery goodness. Mouthfeel is thick like a heavy cashmere winter blanket. Viscous feel as it moves slow motion around your mouth. An oh so long finish coats your mouth. The rich juicy charred fruits and espresso flavor is constant throughout the session. After one sip I wonder if my mouth will ever feel dry or empty again. Drinkability is smooth and easy especially for such a complex, thick, and high alcohol beer.


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Photo of artusory
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 bottle. Pours jet black with a small, creamy, tan head. Quickly fading, no lacing. The aroma is very sweet - golden grapes, chocolates and figs. Overall, the nose is suprisingly mellow for a monster Imperial Stout. Flavor is also very sweet - lots of dark fruit, chocolate, molases, becoming bitter and roasted at the end when some coffee and dark chocolates come in. Finish is long, sweet and slightly bitter with a heavy dose of warm alcohol. The mouthfeel is big, rich, creamy and coating. This one is a bit too hot for me, lets hope it mellows with some age.

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Photo of mattpetti
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 spring release...

Pours an absolutely pitch black with good sized head. Very cloying to the sides of my glass. This looks to be a thick one.

Smell is of roasted malts dark ripe fruits, mocha, some chocolate, maybe ever alittle smokiness. A wonderful smell. There is alcohol too which is very apparent, but for some reason isn't harsh.

The taste was up front solid, roasted, malts which was backed by wine like cassis and coffee flavors. The final hit is of smoke and a lingering alcohol kick. Very complex.

The overall mouthfeel was good. It was alittle too astringent for my taste , but its what i expect a russian imperial stout should be like. The only thing i didn't like was how the acidity seemed to become more powerful as i drank more of the beer. Also for some reason this beer was not as fullbodied as i expected from such a dark beer.

Overall you can def down more than one of these beers easily. If you love RIS's then this is the beer for you without a doubt. Also i think with age this beer will be unstoppable. I'll try and review one again months from now and see if i can tell the difference.

Drunk Responcibly;) -Matt

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Photo of daliandragon
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ah, a bomber of quality Imperial Russian stout, indeed a pretty sight. At least as good as a jug of sack, but slightly easier to find for us if not Falstaff. That said, I wish more places near me brought Stone to the table. Usually I have to go Brooklyn for it, as in this case. This is a 220z of the 2004 limited early summer release and has some comical Russian themed randomness on the bottle.
Color is black as night. The beer has no head as it pours, develops one after and it slowly dissolves back to nothing like a perfect circle. The color is pure jet black with tannish lacing and head scraps. Nose is pure coffee malt on overdrive with pine, sugar, and dairy. Alcohol dances lightly in the backround. This is an attractive beer.
Coffee and malt sugar combine in a flavorful but not overwhelming taste with an almost eternal aftertaste. The alcohol is present but understated for the size. Mouthfeel is good but not perfect. Definitely more bitter than many stouts of similar size and reputation.
This isn't quite the greatest stout I've ever had but I will definitely be looking for it again soon.

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

OK again BLACK! Truly [again as pretty much expected] One of the darkest head I've remember seeing. Doesn't last long, and no lace, but that seems pretty typical (?) This is so good! This seems perfectly balanced right now... I'm glad i bought several, but don't know if i will be able to keep any in the "cellar". I "upped" this a bit from the previous review, but ...right now i'd go buy a case of this right now! [if it wasn't a 50 mile drive]
GREAT BEER as stone does now and again!!!

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Photo of klewis
3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Edition served in the Stone RIS tulip glass

A: Pours midnight black with a brown 1-1/2 finger head that subsides to a wispy layer of foam. Not much lacing.

S: Full aromas of chocolate, anise, and alcohol.

T: More hop presence than last year's (as I remember) with some typical chocolate and coffee flavors attempting to sneak through but covered by strong alcoholic and metallic tastes. This one needs to wait a bit.

M: Thick and creamy with light-moderate carbonation.

D: Last year's edition was the best beer that I've ever had to date, and this year's was a bit of a dissapointment to me. This is still one of the best beers out there, but not as good as I remember. I'll be cellaring the rest of my bottles in hopes that the flavor will smooth out.

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Photo of instrumentality
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle came from the "Limited Spring 2006 Release." I received it as a gift for my 30th birthday party, and what a gift it turned out to be.

This one practically oozed out of the bottle: a thick, black, hearty beverage with a thin layer of brown foam that quickly settled and left a shallow pool of carbonation in its wake.

The odor was a mix of coffee, caramel, and cherries.

One sip and I thought to myself, "Good god this is tasty." The coffee flavor came through immediately, but heavy, almost like tar, yet not overpowering. This was followed by a mildly bitter sweetness akin to some red wines. The alcohol is also clearly present but not overpowering. Aftertaste is mainly coffee with a splash of caramel.

I held a gulp in my mouth and could feel the tingling of carbonation, but other than that the drink is soothing on the palate, with no burning alcohol sensation.

I'm not that familiar with imperial Russian stouts, and I bought this one with a skeptical mind despite all the hype, thinking it might be a little too winey for me, but it's nice. I'm taking it slowly, but I could easily see myself making short work of this treat if I wasn't consciously pacing myself. And at almost 11% ABV, I think it would be wise to give this one time.

The best part is, it's still a very young beer, and I'm fully prepared to follow the advice on the bottle:

"We recommend getting a case and opening a bottle every three to six months to best enjoy its journey."

I love Stone as it is, but this beer is on another level.

I've just poured the remaining contents of the bottle. My glass is literally hissing at me. Or is it the gargoyle on the bottle? Stone doesn't mess around.

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Photo of Bleedingshrimp
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a tulip. This brew poured the darkest black wherein no light permeated. Nice chocoalte milkshake head that fades quick but leaves the tiniest layer throughout. Smells strong of alcohol and cinnamon with notes of plum and pomegranate. Taste is sweet with notes of coffee. The gentle hops play off the moderate vinous taste. Alcohol is clearly present but is overwhelmed by a nice complexity. As it warms, green apple and vanilla notes make their prescence known. A giant among beers. Mouthfeel is chewy and creamy. Drinkability is hindered because the alcohol does play prominently in taste. Overall, a big complex beer that leaves you with a warmth and a sense of what went into its creation.

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Photo of Lnedrive14
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Bottle purchased at American Beer Distributing Company in Brooklyn (felt pretty lucky to come across this gem). Not sure how well it was stored, so was a bit worried when I cracked it open. Wish I had done it with a vertical, but oh well - will have to compare based on memory.

A: Pours a jet black with a thick tan head. Very pretty.

S/T: Big hop presence. Certainly not overwhelming though, as the roasted malts and chocolate/vanilla swirl flavors compensate quite nicely. It wasnt till the last 6-8 oz. or so of the bomber that the alcohol presence started to make itself known (I think it tasted better without it).

M/D: Strangely, I felt the brew was much more carbonated than the last sample I had had. Swirling it in my mouth didn't leave the sticky chewiness that I expected - slightly less full-bodied. Drinkability was very high at the beginning, but as I said, the alcohol started to come across at the end (as I began to get a bit intoxicated).

Fantastic brew overall. I think the aging worked well - though not to such a drastic effect as I had anticipated. I would say that at most it was a bit more subdued. Not sure if hte increased carbonation was a part of it (I would have expected the opposite).

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Photo of sponberg
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 edition, stored cold over the past 9 months.

Pours absolutely opaque with a dark tan head. There's some serious dark malt in this baby. Aroma of dark toffee, faint chocolate, dark toasty malt )almost pumpernickel, maybe brown bread) and alcohol.

Who needs dinner? Hugely chewy - starts with a brown bread toastiness then all malt hell breaks loose. Vast flavor - between the bittering hops and roasted malt, those taste buds are happy, and in the meantime the rest of the brew goes to work with dark, fruity maltiness and a serious warming surge of alcohol to accompany. Finished with a long, lasting alcoholic vapor and bittersweet dark malt. Huge. And hugely enjoyable.

Given the strength two would be plenty - but many other brews of this heft (I smoked a pork shoulder with less meatiness) would have me shouting "No mas!" after one bottle. Damned fine brew.

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

Just as a driver's ed teacher would say "the car is not a toy" a wise beer drinker might say the same of this beer. Yank off the cap, and gaze in wonder as the glass slowly fills with magnificent ebony liquid. This liquid is so dark that the head looks more like the froth on top of a chocolate milk shake. Nose seems restrained to me. I get loads of choclate and espresso. Taste starts off with sweet chocolate syrup, giving way to cocoa and then coffee. Finish is like your mouth after swallowing a mocha. I suppose I would have liked a tad more bitterness.
Now the mouthfeel is where this beer shines like a spotlight. It coats the mouth like an oil spill. The carbonation is like a fragile work of art. Delicately spilling over the tongue and the rest of the mouth. If I had the means I would be happy to drink this whenever I craved a stout. The reputation is well deserved.

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Photo of maddamish
4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5


Taste: Like most stouts, this one is best consumed just under room temp. I made the mistake of chilling it in the fridge for 3 hours. When I first tasted this stout I was unimpressed. But the more it warmed up the more it showed it's true character. Chocolate, coffee and dark malts swirl together to give this beer depth. This is the sort of beer you just sit back and contemplate.

Ap: This stout is as thick as they come. Pitch black and as dark and syrupy as used motor oil. The head was thick and creamy.

Thoughts: This is just as good as the Victory Storm King Stout in all categories except taste. But This is not a 4.5 beer in the taste department so I deducted .5 from the drinkability score. I think storm king has a little more going on in the taste department but that is not to slam this great. beer. But there can only be one top stout and this one makes a good case for that title. Excellent in every way.

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Photo of deuschbag
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 edition

stone imperial russian stout pours a pure blackness color. no light what so ever shinning threw. has a nice little dark brown head that fades away quickly.

this had a really really extreme alcoholic aroma. it was a little of a turn down at first, but as i dipped my nose deeper in into the snifter, i smelt some hops and beef jurky which kind of cought me off guard. very unique.

taste is great. a great hop and chocolaty malt flavor. everything is perfectly balanced. not one thing overpowers another.

feels nice and smooth on the palate. smooth and very chewy.

another great drinkable brew by stone. this one's a sipper though so be carefull with it.

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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 scottoale
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Limited spring 2006 release pours from the STD.Stone 22oz. bomber a rather thick, black-licorice with a cocoa brown inch of foamy head. Very stout indeed.

Comes to the nose sweet, dark and alcoholic...whoa! Black currants, dark roasted coffee, black patent malt and a truck load of alcohol fill my nasel cavity.

Initially sweet, strong , black malt of a coffee flavor loads the tastebuds. Powerful, almost puckering rich, toasty (almost burnt) flavor that doesn't quite know when to quit...astonishing complexity. When you finally do find the time to swallow this amazing elixer, it goes down, ever so smooth and warming, with the pefectly bitter balance of a finish. A lingering, gourmet coffee like aftertaste that satisfies, yet makes the taste senses yearn for more...and more...and...

This is a full bodied beer if there ever was one...thick, some what chewy, velvety smooth in the mouth with a warming of alcohol, that make it a stout that's a "must try, or you'll really be missing out" great STOUT!

Can't recommend this one enough, get some or you'll be sorry. And don't forget to get some for your thirsty cellar !!!

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Photo of bennetj17
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New 2006 release. Thick inky black pour, no real head, just dark tan swirly foam. Aroma is nice and strong, with intense coffee notes, very roasty, with hints of light chocolate and black currant/dark fruits. Alcohol not very strong in the nose. The taste is rather dry, and mostly like coffee, with chocolate undertones. Moderately bitter, the alcohol taste is slight, but becomes strong over time. Thick mouthfeel, but smooth and slick feeling. This beer goes down easily, until the alcohol catches up to you, but I am looking forward to cellaring for awhile, because as it stands this stout lacks the depth to be a top 10 or even top 100 brew yet.

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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.

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Photo of cproioi
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow what could be said about this brew that would do it justice? Poured a beautiful black body, no light what so ever passed through it at all, with a dark tan head. First smell it had a coffee aroma. However, what stood out to me the most was the fruity smell to it. As it warmed the beer started to give off a pleasant alcohol scent.

Now comes the first drink, oh wow I was dearly thrown from the chair it was such a big complex taste. It tasted very nicely of malts. Sorry but words excape me right now. All I have to say about taste is one must try this beer.

When the beer enters your mouth the first thing you notice is how thick and syrupy it is. It comes in a just coats your mouth. On the way down your throat it gives off a nice alcohol warming feeling. This is a beer to be taken slowly and to let it warm so one can pick apart all the flavors. I really liked this beer I'm going out soon to buy more. One for right when I get home and others too cellar.

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Photo of phishgator
3.83/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured into a snifter. The dark choclate/black color produced a rether big tan head. The aroma is the common roated coffee beans and then some spicy (hop?) aroma. The taste is bitter up front and a little astringent in the end. There is coffee, bitter sweet choclate, and a little plum twist. The astringence detracts from the mouthfeel and the drinkability. The alcohol warms you rather quickly; the heat is just a tiny bit present. The body is big, but not overly filling. A good stout!

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Photo of lflesh
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i love stone. that being said; i was slightly dissappointed with years ris. its a good beer, but i was a little let down. the nose was there. i got chocolate and coffee. it looked dark and brooding. the taste was there, but it felt a little thin and taste was short. i was looking for the choc-coffee after taste to carry on. that being said; this was a good beer- maybe i was looking for more. you cant do wrong by trying this beer if you like this style.

music: richard ashcroft: keys to the world

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

22 oz bottle purchased at Bauer Wine and Spirits in Boston. Poured into an St. Bernardus glass.

I tend to be a little bit critical (compared to the rest of BA) of Stone beers, but this is, in my opinion, one of the best beers, and the very best stout, in the world. This is US beer experimentation at its best. It takes a style that is traditionally pretty easy-drinking, because of the lack of bitterness, and makes it in-your-face. This beer is very malty, with strong notes of semi-sweet dark chocolate, plus some coffee. But, it also has a stong bitterness (without an overt hoppiness) that defines the finish. It is HUGE, with absolute hop/malt balance. Drinakbale, but with a great bite, Stone RIS is a fantastic beer.

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Photo of libertygrails
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Thick like crude glugs out the bottle. Aggressive pour yields a lite-chocolate colored foamy head that disappears quickly. Opaque to light. Scant lacing seen.

Smell - Fried plantain, caramel, dark roasted Starbucks-esque coffee, butter 'n molasses. Amazing nose here!

Taste - Roasted coffee flavors pulling through fried plantain(banana), caramel and butter among others....
Warms immediately. Big.

Mouthfeel - Slick oily quaff. This is a liquid meal. If you think you can drink this and still "Fast" you are cheatin'.

Drinkability - A very, very Big Beer on all fronts and i'm only half through. One of these is plenty. If you can drink this as a "Session Beer" you are a Pro Wrestler that wears a mask. :)

Beautifully done again, Stone! Will prolly go with Ye Olde Rasputin in a pinch though. Never thought i'd be a Stout enthusiast. Things change, don't they?

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Photo of OStrungT
4.87/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Just picked up a case of the 2006 release.

This beer pours a thick tar like black. It has a dark brown head that fades a little fast. It leaves many laces. Absolutely no light shines through the murky depths of this beer.

This beer has a rich coffee like aroma. It smells very malty. Roasted barley is present. It has a dark chocolate aroma also. It smells slightly hoppy.

This beer has a strong chocolate like flavor. It tastes slightly of coffee. The alcohol content is apparent in the flavor. This beer is a little more hoppy than I expected. It has a small taste of dark fruits. Plumbs and rasins.

This beer is very thick. It is low in carbonation. It is surprizingly smooth, considering how massive a beer as it is. It leaves a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. The alcohol warms slightly as it goes down.

Although this beer is high in alcohol, I have had it as a session beer before. I get a little buzzed, but it works. I think I could drink this beerall week long. I would like to install a drinking fountain in my garage that pumps this beer out.

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Photo of ktsaiucla
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First review...

Spring 2006 Release
22 oz. bottle
Served in a Stone IRS specialty glass (17 oz.)

Purchased a case yesterday (4/18/06).

This beer is black! Smelled predominantly of roasted coffee in addition to a slight fruitiness. Just by smell, it is easy to tell that there is a lot of alcohol in this beer.

Head maybe about half a centimeter; though it wasn't an aggressive pour.

Taste is chocolatey and fruity, but finishes off bitter, like French roast coffee. Very balanced, as no one flavor really sticks out. Flavors get more complex as it warms, though retaining its balance.

Halfway through, I'm a little tipsy.

Great mouthfeel, but not as "chewy" as, say, an Alesmith Speedway Stout. Thick, and almost syrupy. Very smooth. Doesn't feel like a "chore" to drink sometimes, as with the aforementioned beer.

Very, very drinkable. Can be dangerous, as I don't really notice the alcohol until it warms.

Definitely recommended!

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Photo of Hibernator
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Stone Imperial Russian Stout
2004 Release
22 oz brown bottle
Served in a St.Sebastiaan tulip glass

This beer has been on my radar for some time now. I was so glad to spot it at New Beer Distributors in NYC

Pours a jet black. Appears like ink. Thin, light brown lacing around the top of the beer. There is no looking through this beer.

Whiffs of roasted coffee, prunes and dairy sweetness.

An extremely sharp and complex beer. Highlights of specialty dark chocolates, freshly dripped espresso shot and roasted malts enriched in dairy creamer. The mouthfeel is mighty syrupy and slick. Light soy sauce resemblance. Dark fruits dipped in warmed chocolate sauce. Agressive hop finish.

Well, I’ll put this one up there with North Cast Old Rasputin and Rogue Imperial Stout. Not only one of the best Imperial Stouts I’ve had, but one of the best beers.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,269 ratings.
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