Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

2,743 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: 2,743 | Ratings: 8,339
Photo of kpantz
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Executive Summary: A hefty, hefty stout that requires planning to drink - quite the gastric investment, but well worth it!

Appearance: Pours a devilishly opaque deep brown/black into my snifter, with a mocha colored head that retains fairly well. Lacing is good, but not too resilient.

Smell: Raisin, plum, alcohol, deep malt all mix together to portend a fantastic flavor.

Taste: Exactly what I like in a stout. Deep roasted malt flavors, with a bit of hop character to balance. Chocolate and coffee flavors bounce around, and I swear I sense cherries. Warming alcohol flavor as well - this is a hell of a brew to cozy up with after a cold dog-walk.

Mouthfeel: Perfect for the style. Thick, without being too sticky. Really embraces the mouth and the tongue, immersing you in the deep texture.

Drinkability: This is where I knock it down a bit. Not because it's high in alcohol (though it is), but more because it's just such a strong, aggressively flavored stout. There are far more drinkable imperial stouts (Victory Storm King, Samuel Smith, Weyerbacher Old Heathen/Heresy) - this one is just so bold that I can only down one bomber without either switching to something else or stopping altogether.

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

Pours an opaque black with a thin, dark khaki head that settles to a ring almost immediately. Aroma is strong and rich with notes of sweet macerated fruit (prunes?) and a dark vinous quality.

Taste is sinfully rich and sweet. Tons of roasted malt, black patent, bakers' cocoa, molasses, coffee and espresso flavors. Hop flavors early, adding a fruity little bitter heat to the otherwise malt-heavy profile. Finish is slightly to the sweet side, some burnt sugars in the aftertaste, although the alcohol is well-hidden. Turns a little more bitter as it warms, a little more acidic.

Mouthfeel is thick, quite viscous, but remains drinkable. Impression is of a very, very strong, alcoholic espresso (which ain't bad at all). Some cocoa flavors in this beer would pair very well with dark chocolate. It's not a Dark Lord-type of evil, but don't leave it alone with your grandmother.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My first perfect rating. Because it simply is perfection in a glass. This 22oz was from summer of 05 yet still simply the best.

Appearance- Black with a caramel head nicely lacing the glass.

Smell- Great coffee smell, cherries or currants or both, sweet roasted malt and alcohol.

Taste- Sweet cherries as first then warms with the alcohol and chocolate. Enough hops to balance the brew, good carbonation and the sweetness dominates till the tingly finish. There is so much going on here it is hard to believe. My god, this is just too good.

Mouthfeel- Thick and oily, chewy and clingy.

Drinkability- The 22oz was gone way too quickly. Not sure I would want 2 of them as the abv is pretty high, but the incredible taste makes me want to try.

Re-reviewed on 3-6-07 and had to knock it down a few notches due to some much better stouts reviewed since. It's still a massive brew worthy of it lofty rating, just not the perfect 5 I gave it on first review.

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Photo of LPorter33
3.41/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Purchased 22oz Bomber of limited early 2005 release from Bauer Wine & Spirits (Thanks, Nick!). I bought this many months ago and had it sitting in my fridge for awhile. I was waiting for the perfect moment and person to share it with, and just happened to get a random guest drop by tonight, so out came the bottle opener, in my desire to intoxicate her by my charm, i.e. get her drunk. So here goes....

Appearance = Thick and black as the darkest night. Liquid seems extremely dense and heavy. Very little carbonation and head which surprised me. Looks like Texas tea.

Smell = Dark, toasted malt with hints of really bitter baking chocolate. A bit of tanginess and sourness I'm guessing from the hops. Smells lighter than expected in the alcohol department. I was imagining a stronger presence of overpowering fumes.

Taste = Sweet, powerful and full of intense alcohol like flavors. This is a very well blended beer with the syrupy sweetness coming in nicely. It's just a bit too overwhelming for my taste buds. I can appreciate this beer and realize it's quite well made but it's not my ideal. It did go very well with a strawberry yogurt Zone Perfect bar though.

Mouthfeel = really thick and coating. I enjoyed the way it warmed the inside of my mouth. Like getting a massage for your gums.

Drinkability = I wouldn't be able to have more than a 1/2 bottle of a 1/2 bottle shared. It's just too overpowering. I think I need more food to compliment this beer, like a calzone from Bova's Bakery.

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Photo of stewart124
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a midnight black color that cannot be seen through and it is topped by a thick brown head. As soon as I poured this there were huge amounts of malt in the nose. Coffee and anise are also present in the smell.
The taste is extremely strong. Body is syrupy with a huge silky feel. Alcohol is very present in this beer. My tastebuds are screaming for mercy. Black currants are present along with tons of roasted malts and coffee tastes. Very soothing taste and like the bottle says "sinful". I don't think I could drink anything else after this one as everything would be uncomparable. Really strong after taste of malts and hops not to mention the alcohol. Another masterpiece by Stone.

2008 bottle reviewed 2/16/13
Same expected color with just a hint of the tan head.

Pungent nose but without a hop bitterness. Strong stone fruits in the nose. Some oak and vanilla notes.

Smooth and a little less carbonation or body. More syrupy than I remember. Plenty more caramel and dark candied fruits. Some lingering bitterness at the finish. Alcohol is still obviously present but at first it drinks so easily. Half way through this starts to catch up with me.

Still a great Russian imperial stout. I believe I need to set aside another few of these for 5 years.

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Photo of timtheenchanta
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Jet black spent oil color. Little head with little retention. Slight webby lacing. Roasted coffee smell with some alcohol smell bleeding through. Smooth thick feel with huge coffee taste and alcohol bite. Alcohol comes through heavy in the finish. Oddly enough, doesn't have warming feel as much as a cooling effect on the throat. Great RIS. Thanks to BeerBeing for this one.

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Photo of beermanbrian
4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black color with very small tan head. Was expecting a much larger more prominent head. Smell of cherries and plums, slight alcohol note that becomes more prominent as you drink, chocolate, coffee. It's all in there, everything you would expect from a IS. The coffee flavor stands out the most to me in the taste. Mouthfeel is actually a little thinner than i would have expected. Overall this is definitely an above average beer but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Maybe I was hoping for too much but it just didn't blow my socks off.

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

Late Spring '03 release...picked this one up the first time I went to a Stone tasting at Colonial in Acton and met the man they call Grover.
Pours a deep, dark black with absolutely no light passing thru...agressive pour produces a full finger of tan colored head and some decent lacing sticks around.
Smell is inviting...cocoa powder, vanilla, sweet malt and no sense of alcohol.
The taste is where it shines...huge dark chocolate profile, a balanced sweetness, just the slightest coffee presence and a subtle bitter finish. The alcohol is very well hidden and the finish is clean.
Mouthfeel is quite thick and the carbonation is right on for the style.
I have one more of these and believe I will crack that one open soon too...will try it with this past years release just for comparison.
Thanks to Stone for another winner.

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Photo of CDBeerDisappear
4.82/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - Black as night in cave on Pluto during an eclipse. I always hold my beer up to a bright light to see any subtle colors in the brew. No light goes through this one.

s - Sweet choco-molasses malt. The smell intrigues and invites. There are rich dark frruits; raisins & prunes mingled with the aroma of great port.

t - No dissapointment after all the promise that the aroma holds. There is sweet dark chocolate roasted malt that transmutes into an earthy, rich fruity flavor. The flavor stands up to chocolate desserts.

m - Thick and oily with subtle carbonation. Really works with the flavor.

d - Could drink way too many of these. Each sip invites another and now unfortunatlely I have sipped mine to bottom of the glass. I'll be heading out to the beverage store tomorrow.

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Photo of JoeyHotrod
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow Wow Wow!

I knew I was in for a treat from the start. If the raves this beer gets weren't enough to convince me, all it took was a single solitary look.

The apperance is something to behold indeed. Think of the blackest black you've ever seen... and from there think even blacker! No way... no how, is a single speck of light getting through this dark as night majestic stout.

The head didn't last long and that would explan the 4.5, as opposed to a straight 5 score all around. To be fair the head while it was there, was quite a sight to behold. A darkish brown/tan color that was a perfect combination, to the black as black gets brew itself.

As I drink there was some definite lacing action going on, though it wasn't anything noteworthy.. a miniscule complaint, given the quality of the liquid within.

The smell... wow where to begin. Dark chocolate.. a hint of alcohol (well a hint by 10.8 percent standards anyway..) roasted malts, even a frutiness of sorts to it. So much going on really, that's hard to even put into words.

The Taste.... again wow about sums it up! Full bodied, with hardly a hint of the alcohol taste one would expect from a beer this strong. Don't get me wrong it's there, but trust me when I say it's well masked indeed. There's a hint of hops, but not the full fledged hop implosion one is apt to find in other Stone beers. I love hops as much as the next guy, but a nice change of pace in that regard and appropriate for the style.

Tasting further one notices definite coffee influences, as well as everything from coffee, to the darkest of chocolates. A whole lot going on here to say the very least. It's worth noting that as I slowly make my way through the glass, I become even more amazed about the well hidden alchohol. Stone deserves some definite cudos for masking it as well as they did.

Drinkabilty.... one bomber would likely be enough for most anyone, but it goes without saying that a person could quite easily 'convince' themselves to indulge in another bomber if need be.

Stone wasn't lying when they said this poured like used motor oil.. not so sure about the tasting even heavier part though. This is damn close to heaven in a glass and while heavy, made so well that even those not into the style, might be able to find some appreciation here.

World class all the way!

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Photo of aforbes10
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I bought two of these at CIty Wide in South Bend and im cellaring one for later. The other one we had last night at our South Bend Coalition of the Drinking club. This is the early summer 2005 release. Pours black, black, black. creamy caramel colored head with good lacing. fantastic overall appearance. Smells like roasted malts, chocolate, prunes. Taste was great. smoky roasted maltiness, coffee-also roasted, sourness like coffee grains, alcohol not totally hidden. Smooth in the mouth. smacks the roof of the mouth a bit for the first sip or two. Faaaantastic drinkability. i only give it a 4.5 though because im so optimistic about the one im cellaring that i want to leave room to give it a better score.

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Photo of SupaCelt
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Early summer 2005 release: This Rusky Imp emerged from the bottle a deep and dark brown. Getting a decent head took some work, but I managed to get nearly an inch of ruby tinted cocoa fluff. Some reverse cascading took effect and I was afraid that it was going to overflow my glass. The head split in a hurry leaving only a ring. Lace factor was minimal due to small sips and a slickness that caused the little bergs to go sliding back into the mix. Every now and then a small carbonation bubble could be seen struggling through the thickness, but it was fairly light on effervescence.

Chocolate and raisinesque dark fruit notes dominated the nose. Vague coffee bean impressions were notable although very mute. The alcohol presence left its vaporous sting amidst the mostly sweet scents. I was unable to notice any trademark hop character, and overall the nose was pretty light.

The taste was basically the nose as interpreted by the taste buds. Scent and smell were nearly identical. Heavy on chocolate with over ripe vinous qualities. There was scarcely any bitterness in play. The finish remained juicy and wet without any dryness. Lip smacking and luscious come to mind as adjectives. The dark fruit qualities lingered on in the aftertaste quite nicely.

The mouthfeel was pretty thick. It held the clean and refined Stone character though. Where some brews have a thickness that includes an almost palpable grainy chunkiness, and sugary granulated feeling, this one was smooth and clean. It was simply dense. I have never palated anything I can think of that was similar to this with such a clean thickness.

The drinkability factor could be considered as pretty darn drinkable. This brew wasn't really a mammoth by any stretch. Sure the abv is up there pretty good, but the cleanliness makes this thing dangerously drinkable. A very solid brew, but I have to say that it appears to be greatly overrated. I was expecting more based on the numbers, but this just proves how irrelevant all of our opinions are. To each his own as they say.

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

Summer '05 Release. Finally got around to rating this one. Aroma was light bread, strong coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted. Moderate yeast and a bit of dough. This baby pours black with minimal head. Excellent lacing that fully diminishes. This is one full bodeid brew that's oily/syrupy with only a little carbonation. This is my favorite RIS. As I have a bunch of these, I'll be adding my reviews as they age.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


This is clearly one of the darkest beers I’ve ever poured. No light comes through what so ever, not ever around the edges. The dark tan head is frothy and left only slight tracks of lace.

Smelled of dirty Hershey’s syrup, black liquorish, slight dark fruits and black roasted malts with a hint of alcohol.

Tasted of huge bitter black chocolate with a smokiness up against my palate. Finishes with the best roasted malt character I’ve ever encountered. The standard to which I here after hold all other imperial stouts. It doesn’t taste like bonfire, or coffee; just smooth roasted malt (and a lot of it, I might add). Marvelous balance!

The mouth feel was medium bodied with a surprisingly small amount of carbonation for an IS. Actually, the light mouth feel just helps the drinkability.

This is a marvelous beer and I highly recommend it.

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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!

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.69/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a blackish black body with a thin wisp of dark chocolate colored head that fades to a thin film around the edge. Even held up to the sun there is no sign of light or carbonation in this beer.

S- Even during the pour the aroma was breathtaking. Dark roasted grains with notes of coffee and black strap molasses, chocolate and port with some nice alcohol aroma at the finish. Prunes and raisins with a hint of dark cherries come through as it warms. Perhaps even a note of hops in the alcohol at the finish. There are some lighter notes of caramel and bready notes also.

T- The dark rich roasted grains and malts have a nice sweetness to them with notes of currants (like the bottle says) and brown sugar. Then a more robust taste comes through of dark roasted coffee with some cigar earthiness in the background. The finish has some vinous taste with a balance of hop bitterness and some alcohol kick.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with some silky texture and a nice alcohol warmth to balance the sweetness at the beginning.

D- Even though this is a big complex beer it has a lot of balance and smoothness in flavors. As it warmed in the snifter it really took on different flavors and smells. It wasn't heavy on the burnt flavors but had nice dark flavors of all sorts.

Thanks to karengarys for hunting the beast down for me.

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Photo of Tallboy
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am rather happy to report that this was my first time trying this brew.
and I knew from the moment my lips touched the bottle and I gently savored that warm sweet smell before sipping, that there was indeed something truely special at work here. It’s dark with huge coffee and chocolate flavors along with some rather imposing but welcomed fruit flavors .The mouthfeel is indeed fantastic experience as well. Overall a Great first tasting beer!

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Photo of phisig137
4.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

After much anticipation, I finally popped this bottle of 05 RIS, and enjoyed. It pours an absolute black like I'vew never seen before, and a caramel colored head that dissapates rather quickly. In the glass, this looks just incredible. First thoughts when smelling it remind me of malt extract that I brew with, "Whoppers"(the malted candy), and dates.

The flavor of this beer goes along with the aroma, with huge malt flavors, slightly sweet without being cloying at all, a bit of roastiness on the finish, backed by a nice hop profile, as well a a subdued smokiness.

All in all, this is one of the best imperial stouts I've ever had, partially because it is SO much different than the standard old rasputin, heresy, or other imperial stout. I cannot wait for the 3 bottles that I have in the cellar. I think 3-4 years will do quite well.

Next time you see it in the stores (I think I bought mine in april or may) pick up a few bottles. This is one beer well worth every single penny!

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Photo of joecast
4.97/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

stone imperial stout. big bottle. big beer. 2005 release.

so right off the bat im thinking, "what is that? are you even trying to form a head? a pathetic attempt."
quickly, i bite my tongue. "ouch!!"
the blackness of the beer actually dims the room.
i reach for another light switch, but to no avail. looking through stone IS colored glasses makes everything appear dark.

and the smell?! agghh! no need for nose hair trimmers this month. gone in a flash. fig, dates, over-ripe plum to the point of producing their own alcohol. and alcohol. i swear this stuff will take off your nail polish. but still sweet, fruit, and mouth wateringly delicious.

hot damn. multiply the aroma a few times and get the taste. i swear there is ssome seriously good milk chocolate in there some where. it is that smooth.
of course the guys at stone cant show their sensitive side so they try to cover it with loads of roasted malt, bitterness out the you know what, coffee beans, and heat.
yeah, if i was a russian czar, i would still drink this. unimagineable smoothness when it approaches room temp.

mouthfeel is hard to describe. this stuff must numb the tongue cause i dont feel it past the front of my mouth. but on the front? goood.

and drinkability? well, ok, its 10+%abv makes it hard to session (ha!! thats an understatement). but after this, i doubt anything will taste the same. i've still got half a pint left and it has changed the way i think about beer. is it possible to cram too much of a good thing into one bottle? nah. just call it stone irs and leave it at that.

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Photo of HopHeadKen
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to DonOfBeer for bringing this to the house on New Years Eve !
I love Imperial Stouts, and we have recently had Dark Lord, Bells Expedition, and Smuttynose recently. This one is a great beer !

Poured dark black with the faintest amber highlights at the edge, the rising bubbles from the pour result in what I call a reverse waterfall effect (flowing uphill) that I typically only notice in rich dark beers, this gives a thin brown head that faded quickly into the blackness.

The smell was delightfully roasty, malty with a hint of hops,

Taste was rich, malty, sweet chocolate, hoppy and well balanced.

Mouthfeel was full, viscous and solid.

Drinkable, if you can find it. It hits all the bases, and is one of the best.

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Photo of weeare138
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to egajdzis for this bottle...
Appears a dark, cloudy black with a dark tan head and spotty lace. The head slowly fades into a small film and leaves tons of lacing around the lass.
Smell is of fudge brownie, malty ovaltine, chocolate, along with citrusy hops coming through everything.
Taste is of chocolate fudge with a nice malted richness and mild vinous notes.
Mouthfeel is of smooth chocolate with hops that compliments the brew perfectly.
This is a phenomenal beer.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black-not just black but BLACK. Whisper of a head. Aroma of dark chocolate and black currants. Somewhat floral and hoppy. Big, thick roasted malt flavor. Very heavy hand has been used on the hops-decent balance between the hops and roasted malt. Licorice and anise really dominate. Has the perfect inky and oily slickness that I love in an Imperial Stout. Very, very drinkable beer. Who could criticize such a brew...

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Photo of stcules
3.62/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black color. Black. Scarce head, brownish.
Roasted, light smoked, roasted malts. Cinder. Slightly spiced.
The taste is roasted too, with again smoked and peppery/spicy. And all filled with malt roast chocolate cocoa sharpness.
Good, round, full. The alcohol is perceptible, anyway. Bitterness, rhubarb.
The body is fulla nd round, textured. Resolute, absolutely.
Resolute bitterness in the aftertaste, and roasted. Very bitter.
Maybe the bitterness may be a little boring after a while.

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Photo of Iguana
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First off I must say WOW, this one lives up to its hype.

Appearence - Poured motor oil black with a tiny head that went away in seconds.

Smell - Smell is that of coffee and alcohol, alcohol smell was quite powerful.

Taste - A very complex brew, taste starts as coffee and progresses to alcohol and raisin's. In the end I thought I tasted rum raisin which was interesting and quite delightful.

Mouthfeel - Very syrupy. This is one heavy beer, quite rich as well. Extrememly smooth to drink.

Drinkability - Quite exceptional, I dont see myself drinking more then 1 of these in an evening, but that 1 is savored till its last drop.

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

my christmas eve beer. early summer 2004 release. From the bottle. poured black with a big bubbly brown head that left some lacing. aoma coco bitter sweet chocolate, molasses, a light touch of alcohol as it warm the coffe and dark fruits come out, roasted malts. flavor wooow I can see why this is rated number 2. the first thing that hit the taste buds was the coffee and alcohol than the roasted malts and the sweet berries than along came the chocolate nice mouth feel. would like to get a lot of this stuff

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,339 ratings.
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