Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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2,715 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: 2,715 | Ratings: 8,265
Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a hard beer to find out these parts. A 6.50 a bottle my hopes are pretty high.

A. As usual, Stone does a clever job marketing their beers. "Early Summer 2005 Release". Seems like the beer could have been aged just a little more. I am not one to sneeze at a fresh bomber though.

S. Strong alcohol smell accompanied by roasted notes of pine and burnt sugar. The head does a nice job maintaining, in turn, helping give off these essences.

T. Super strong in all categories in this department. Roasted malts, huge bitterness, chocolate follow through. Very charismatic.

M&D. Another tremendous offering from Stone. Creamy all the way through, its drinkability is hurt a little by its high alcohol content.

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Photo of Ahhdball
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a thick black mass of tar leaving little to no head but plenty of residue along the sides.
Heavy -but not too strong- malt smell followed by espresso and chocolate.
Sweet and dark chocolates, coffee with hints of nuts. A warming alcohol presence made sure to remid me of the big 10 abv but wasn't to heavy, balanced fantasticly.
Slick oily mouthfeel. Heavy hitting, thick and chewy. This is a great Imperial just perfect for a cold winter evening playing chess or reading a book.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance of black motor oil with a decent brown head. smells of chocolate ice cream with coffee, caramel and light grainyness. some slight floral hop notes, as well as some other more literally floral aromas. dark fruits, tobacco and roasted qualities come out after some warming occurs.
chocolate and roasted coffee dominate the taste with a really excellent balance avoiding the heavy sweetness that can sometimes take away from this type of beer. a good amount of bitterness at the finish cleaning things up very well without preventing the very good aftertaste from coming though. the alcohol is masked well and is nearly undetectable. a cigar like tobacco flavor coems out as it warms, especially in the back of the throat.
full chewy body with light carbonation. silky mooth and a pleasure to drink. excellent drinkability, packed with flavor, but not overwhelming or excessive ever. it just makes you want to have more. seek this out, it's top notch as far as this type of beer goes. stone never disappoints.

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

Year and a half old Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Early Summer 2004 release consumed on date of review.

I cellared this and few of his brothers for a year and half and decided to try this one out tonight.

Pours a beautiful dark black brown with a frothy mocha head. The head doesn't last long.

Smell is rich dark chocolate and coffee. Not much in the way of hops.

Taste is more chocolate and coffee with cream. Very smooth and sweet balanced by some nice roasted bitterness.

Mouthfeel is extra creamy.

Very drinkable!

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Photo of becktone
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This black molasses looking beer was poured from a 22oz. "Limited Early summer 2005 Release" brown bomber. It pours to form a nice but moderate/conservative brown head. The head quickly dissiaptes to a lacing around the sides of the glass, with a very very thin film over the top of the beer. When agitated the head dosen't really return, not very much head retention here.

The beer has a very malty smell, I detect no presence of hops at all in this beer. After tasting this beer I can easily smell the roasted barley/malt and chocolate aromas that eminate from this beer. The smell is not very strong, nor is it weak, but its about average. Don't get me wrong, the beer smells great but its not very potent, meaning this: when I opened it the aroma of the beer didn't fill the room. Ok so call me crazy but there is something in the overall aroma that reminds me of the smell my George Foreman Grill Produces when I clean it off after making Hamburgers. I clean it with a paper towel. Perhaps a burnt smell, but that's just what it reminds me of, it's a good smell of course.

This beer is amazing. I recently just brewed a batch of my own Russian Imperial stout. I was anxious to see how these two compared. I must say that the two brews have quite a different taste to them. My brew is just overall maltier, sweeter. This one has a wider variety of flavors. I can taste a roasted flavor, chocolate flavor, and an overall sweet flavor. My brew just had the overall sweet flavor to it. When this brew hits the lips the first thing I taste is the sweet malty flavor of this beer. Next comes a weak, short lived, bitter taste at the back of my tongue. This is followed by chocolate and roasted taste. The after taste after thinking about it for a while reminds me of M&M's and coffee.

Nice dark and heavy mouthfeel to this beer. It's a full bodied dark brew that feels great on the tongue. This beer is low in carbonation as well it should be, I don't think that a beer like this would be very good with high carbonation. This beer is excellent, and is definitely worth the money I spent on it. I would definitely buy it agian. As to the actual drinkability of this beer it is something to be sipped, I imagine if you drink too many of these in one night you'll easily get sick. Definitely an amazing beer go grab one if you haven't had this.

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Photo of karst
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours black with dense golden brown fine bubbled head leaving little lace.
Aroma of carmelized dark fruits, dark chocolate and roasted grains with lesser citrus hops, and charred oak barrels.

Flavors from rich malt, dark chocolate and char roasted barley bitterness provide an unique finish. IBUs balance sweetness but keep the complexity intact. Full bodied with a perfect dextrinous mouthfeel. Finishes of warming alcohol and dark chocolate fading to a near charcoal dryness.

What a way to end an Indian Summer's day prepairing for the comming winter.
Shared with my homebrew buddy. Shipped from S. California thanks to my good friend OstrungT.

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

The last of my 2004 stash.
Simply put, if you never tried this, just look at thumbs up and down.
Beautiful, eye opening delight to drink. If you are in the least afraid
of porters or stouts, don;'t be here. Drinks as smooth as fine wine.
A memorable experience, unless by rare chance of a heat damaged bottle.
Stone hooked me on this a year ago, and has not let go. If
drinking adjectives are your thing:
Dark tan lacy head which fades
Chocolate scent and on pallate
coffee smell lingers, as taste does as well
Warming, 10% ABV

Go try one if you never have, on a cold winter night.

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Photo of Naes
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is one black beer with a decent tan head.
Its aroma is roasty, chocolaty and has a definite alcohol presence.
Upon the first sip, alcohol is the first thing to register followed by the chocolate, coffee and roastiness. This is defiantly a big beer.
Full bodied and lightly carbonated.
This is a sipper for sure, as the size of the beer in combination with its alcohol content will certainly catch up with you.
The warmer this brew gets, the better it tastes.
Another bombshell by stone.

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

2005 bottle:

The beer pours black with a moderate brown head. The head has died down to a thin film and there is a little lacing on the glass.

The beer smells very rich: coffee, a little dark chocolate, and a bit of black licorice.

The taste is a mix of dark-roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of black licorice. The alcohol isn't very evident. What a delicious imperial stout.

The mouthfeel is appropriately thick with little carbonation. It is just a little slick.

The drinkability is great considering how big this beer is. Stone is such an incredible brewing company.

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Photo of PatYoda
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Late Spring 2003 Version.

Ahh the Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Always a good choice. Let's see how it has held up over the past 2 and a half years. Pours near black with a quickly dying half centimeter of brown foam that doesn't leave much behind. Just as expected. Swirling does bring back some foam. The smell hits me before I'm even finished pouring. Molasses, vanilla, raisins, coffee, rum, and oh so much chocolate behind it all. A hint of oxidation. Now to taste. The coffee and roasted grain bite first, you can really taste them on the tip of the tongue. Chocolate is there in force, as the smell suggested. Sweetness dominates in this beer after the initial bite - the molasses and dark fruit, especially raisins, really come through, with some vanilla as well. The sweetness is defnitely kept in check, however, by the harsh acidity of the roasted grain and coffee. Bittering hops are there too, but don't seem to play much of a role. Never does the beer as a whole actually become harsh. On the contrary, it is actually very smooth and easy drinking for such a big beer. Again, there is a bit of oxidation in the finish, but it is tucked in neatly behind the bitter coffee aftertaste and the chocolate. Very well blended flavors in this, one, but it's definitely a sipper. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied for the style, and very smooth.

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Photo of sinistrsam
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first impression of this beer was the extremely dark body and dark head, with mild lacing. Even holding this up to the light gave little idea of color. It smelled of the typical roasty, chocolate, but was far more complex and very well balanced. The taste was also chocolate with hints of coffee, and one of the best balances of malts and alcohol I’ve ever had. The smoothness was incredible, with minimal carbonation. It finished as good if not better than when I started it, what I consider a rarity among Imperials. This was drinkable to the very end. Overall, this was one of the best Imperials I have ever had. Even if you’re not the biggest Imperial fan, give it a try, it might make you a believer.

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

Sinful? Maybe. Stone’s Imp Stout pours out thick and super dark. Reminds me of motor oil. When held to the light there is some color distortion hinting of a deep chestnut brown color. A decent dark tan head with limited lacing. I would say one of the darkest I’ve ever seen. Very prominent at the beginning but does decrease over time.

The smell is very rich and very complex. A malt lining with chocolate mostly but roasted and coffee odors mix very nicely together. Some limited alcohol smell but a very nice rich and smooth aroma.

The taste is a very rich malt with more of a sweetness and chocolate taste. Very complex malt taste. There is a sort of smoothness that’s not like a milk stout but is similar in texture. Almost like coco. There is a big phenol flavor that becomes stronger in the aftertaste. I wonder if I would let this sit if it were not to mellow out more. As it is, it really deters from the taste. One thing to note is as it warms, it becomes less detectable.

The body is super big. A very rich an complex malt. An exceptional example of how an Imp Stout should be. I am a little deterred by the phenol flavor but overall I still impressed.

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Photo of mynie
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

There are stout pours, and then there are Motherfucking Stout Pours. This is the later. This is completely opaque. Big brown head that ain't going nowhere.

Smells like strong coffee and Stone yeast. Very doughy. Jesus, is this an imperial IPA? Chewy tasty uncooked bread mixed with roast malt, coffee, and chocolate.

Tastes like the aforementioned flavor with a smoky hint like a smoldernig campfire. Dreams, good and bad. Lots of jumping candy and burnt toast and your mother's favorite dress when you'd lean against her and felt so safe. Remember. Feel it all over, eyes and ears and crying tongue. Look at the moon! your mother says. She tells you remember it because it's beautiful and even though you don't know what beauty is you still remember it years later, the color and the smells and her long hand over your shoulder.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful beer.

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

2005 edition.

I can't believe how black this beer pours. I can't coax a hue out of this even with holding it up to the light. And what a thick tan head on the pour. About an inch and a half which diminishes to a nice ring of foam leaving lacing down the glass. Very impressive for 10.8% The nose is a symphony of aromas. Dark ripe fruits, unsweetened chocolate, with a faint roasted hint and some slight alcohol. Very very nice. Strong dark fruits up front blending seamlessly into a chocolatey bitterness with a strong alcohol warmth on the finish. This beer packs a punch, but does it with velvet gloves. You can tell the strength, but it hits you gently. Quite lovely, but it's going to take me the whole night to finish this bomber. Lovely thick and almost syrupy mouthfeel. Very minimal carbonation and smooth as silk. A very very lovely beer. I only wish I could get this more readily, I'd probably buy a case. Definitely something to cellar. Special thanks to Air Canada for getting this home in my luggage in one piece.

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Photo of radshoesbro
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - black as black can be! completely blocks out all light. there wasn't much head and there was no lacing.

s - malty! reminds me of dark chocolate and coffee.

t - lots of malts and that 10.8% ABV is definately right in your face. mild creams goes down fairly smooth for a stone.

m - heavy bodied with a strong malt finish.

d - didn't go well with buffalo wings.

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

Late Spring 2003 Release
9.47% ABV
Sampled 10/09/2005

Appearance: Pours a viscous pitch black. Little carbonation, and an aggressive pour yields a modest tan head. Sticky spots of lacing shellac the inside of the glass.

Smell: The only evidence of oxidation in this 2+ year-old bottle are slight hints of sherry in the nose. The alcohol has mellowed entirely, with nary a bit of booze. Sweet malt aromas touched by bittersweet cocoa powder and fresh-ground espresso dominate any hop presence.

Taste: Incredibly smooth and creamy in the mouth, with the initial flavors of cocoa combining with that to give the distinct impression I'm drinking a cellar-temp café mocha. Amazingly drinkable for a beer this big. Age has done this one right! Big espresso bite after the swallow, with a lightly bitter and slightly astringent finish. Warming alcohol presence noticeable in the flush of my face, but not in the taste. Excellent imperial stout, and a definite top five beer overall for me.

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Photo of UncleFlip
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one is just DARK. Held to the light, there's just the barest bit of mahogany. Tan one finger head (combo of loose and tight bubbles) goes down somewhat quickly, leavng thick wet lace behind.

The smell is deep and thick, with elements of strong coffee, molasses, dark chocolate...and oddly....bacon.

The flavour tends to be spicy, with some coffee notes- and even a bit of the bacon still. There's some round sweet chocolatey bits in the bottom of the aftertaste.

The carbonation hits right up front, and deteriorates at a medium pace. The liquid underneath is thick but not syrupy.

Very drinkable to me... I could easily make a sessioner out of this. In the words of my brother, "this beer makes me want a donut". I couldn't agree more. We like donuts....donuts GOOD.

Be well

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Photo of troutmask96
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone has done it again. Their version of a traditional Russian Imperial Stout is sensational. This is a gargantuan brew that pours with the viscocity of used motor oil. I would have liked to have seen a bit more head. Smell is of dark chocolate, alcohol, and currants. Taste is...oh, rich, so smooth, so drinkable at almost 10% ABV. I literally had to walk away from my pint glass for several minutes to pace myself.

Proceed with extreme caution...

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

2005: Pitch black, dark brown, chocolatey head that leaves trails of lace down the side of the glass. Very fine head reduces to a ring and sticks around throughout. Strong roasted and burnt aroma, coffee, dark chocolate and lots of caramel malt. A bit smokey as well, with some vinous alcohol, ripe fruit, and licorice. Moderate bitterness with a bit of hop flavour balances out the roasty malt and alcohol very well. This brew is full of dark malts, giving it plenty of roasty coffee flavour and a bitter chocolate. The alcohol flavour blends into the background along with a bit of acidic smoke. Finishes with just a bit of bitter dryness from the roasted grains with a fair bit of sweetness. Theres lots of alcohol warmth going down, but no harshness. Smooth and creamy, full bodied with low, well-integrated carbonation. Wow. This is a great beer, well balanced and exactly what an imperial stout should be. It'll be fun trying this one again once it's aged a while.

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

2004 Edition: I am drinking this from the obligatory Stone IRS glass. The beer is black. The nose is of anise, light smoke, and roasted malt.

The taste is outstanding. It is drier than the fresher 2005 edition. Raisins, cherries, figs, and other dark fruits abound. Chocolate appears as it warms. The finish is long and bitter.

The mouthfeel is heavy, the carbonation light. The drinkability is good, as in I will have no problem downing this bomber. I don't think I could drink another one.

This sample has convinced me to not touch my stash of 05 IRS for at least a year, and to get more.

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Photo of gotbeer
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a opaque black with a decent head. The head is dark like the beer, and it almost looks evil. It laces the glass lightly.

The taste is incredible. Coffee, chocolate, and raisens all come to mind. Incredible complexity and a little alcohol and a hoppy bite at the end. Very warming, and not nearly as thick as one might think from looking at the beer. That lends to a great mouthfeel, and it hides the beers ABV. The ABV is the only thing that takes away the drinkability of this beer.

An incredible imperial stout. My favorite to date, and I think it would be very hard to top.

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep opaque black hole sucking in every beam of light in the room from my pint glass. Small half-inch of head slowwwly forming at the top. Lingering deep beige head leaves small lacing on the pint glass.

Aroma of fruity esters, with raisins and currants dominating. Slight burnt twinge and a faint hop presence as well. A mild alcohol warming in the nose.

Taste of deep French roast coffee and bittered caramel sweetness. Body is full but not cloying. A nice balance in the medley of flavors of fruity esters, alcohol, burnt/roated flavors, and hop bitterness.

Exceptional silky velvet mouthfeel that is full-bodied yet providing a smooth viscosity. A rare feat to create such a ful-bodied brew and not have it taste like maple syrup.

Alcohol is the only burner in the drinkability of this brew. A fine nightcap, if I must say so myself.

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Photo of BrewMaster
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2005 Bottle. $4.49 at BevMo.

Appearance: Big creamy brown head that looks like a dense pile of brown sugar on top of the beer. The beer is jet black like used motor oil.

Smell: Soy sauce, brown sugar, toast, caramel, sweet and rich maltiness. The nose is quite attractive.

Taste: Dark chocolate, toast, roasted and slightly burnt sugar and deep malt profile full of rich flavor. This beer is roasty and tangy but not overpowering. Nice alcohol warmth comes way after the beer is consumed. No burning. Lots of mild flavors dancing between the rich roastiness and domoinating chocolate. Those mild flavors include toffee and a light hint of cherry. Well balanced and yummy.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, full bodied, coats the palate nicely. Rich is a good adjective for the feel of this beer.

Drinkability: All around an excellent stout, Russian Imperial or otherwise. Rich and full of wonderful roasty flavor and dark chocolate goodness. It leaves a velvety smooth feel in the mouth and tastes great. When it comes to price and availability, this is one of the best stouts out there. Wonderful this year as every year so far.

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Photo of ghostwalker
4.66/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours absolutely black. How much more black could it be? None! None more black. Not much of a head, might have used the wrong glass for this one, (a Sam Smith's Imperial Pint). The head that did form was very dark brown, left some nice lacing too.

Dark, rich, malty nose with coffee highlights.Very nice, made my mouth water.

Flavor is outstanding! Mouthfeel as well. Heavy, but in a really good way, very rich and chewy. Coffee, chocolate, black currants, raisins and a wonderfully warm and soothing alcohol presence. Overall, the best flavor I could have possibly expected, they nailed everything the Imperial Stout style is about.

Drinkable? Hell, yeah! But not an all-night kind of beer. It's more like have 1-2 during a great afternoon college football party, interspersed with something like a nice hoppy IPA, (Harpoon IPA sounds good to me). The alcohol can definitely sneak up on you, but the flavor keeps it's appeal.

I had heard so much about this beer that I went out and bought the last 3 bombers I could find. Now that I have had one, I believe the hype. Too bad this is only a seasonal, I will hoard the remaining two and await this year's batch eagerly!

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Photo of GimmeAles
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been wanting to try this one for sometime, finally got a bottle for my birthday (what a gift!).

As with all Stone Brews, the label is part of the experience: ‘no actual sin used’ says this one.

This *does* pour silky and thick (like ‘Siberian Crude’ also says the label), and as head forms, I’m amazed at the rocky, garnet-colored beauty that grows to about 2.5 fingers-thick. It continues to enthrall and (I’ll admit, intimidate a bit) through the rest of the pour. Black as night and light carbonation struggles to the surface. The head quickly subsides to a dirty ring that lightly laces the glass

Nose is sweet and complex with the alcohol making itself known early. Prunes, raisins, and rum-soaked currants waft up dreamily, roastiness wafts in from behind.

The flavor is astounding, the fruits on the nose are immediate - again with the Prunes and currants with a backbone of French-roast coffee and black malts. Warming ethanol is a significant presence – would almost be too much would it not be for myriad other dense flavors present to balance it out. This is a huge beer. Oily in the mouth like a Port, though this has more body. Overall character struck me as remarkably Port-like as well.

Drinkability is excellent for the beer’s stature, though half a bomber slowed me down plenty (glad I was sharing). It was a superb combination with the char-grilled rib-eye and twice-baked potato. This would be a great beer for cellaring – the alcohol would soften and I can only imagine the deeper complexities of smell and flavor. I will be picking up a couple more of these for this reason alone.

update (01.14.08): after having this a couple more times (once aged a year on draft) I'm forced to knock this one down a bit in flavor and drinkability. A distinct, and consistent briny soy-sauce flavor (peated malt?) more present than many other impy stouts I've had since. Still, a strong offering.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,265 ratings.
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