Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

2,744 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: 2,744 | Ratings: 8,340
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 TastyTaste
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Tarry black color, nice gingerbread head that leaves good amounts of lacing.

Smell: Dark chocolate, dark coffee, alcohol. Rich with some woody scents to it.

Taste: Big, rich and flavorful. A whole lot of coffe flavors domintate this beer, also with some dark chocolate. Flavors are forceful and direct, this is a very potent beer that has a lot of very nice characteristics. Hops also finish this out with a nice alcohol finish, good for a frosty winter's night.

Mouthfeel: Full and slick, leaves a slightly sticky mouthfeel, but is very good, with appropriate carbonation levels.

Drinkability: Excellent, an outstanding Imperial Stout. Well worth the ratings, because this is a big beer which can appeal to more beer drinkers, becuase it isn't over the top like many beers in the Imperial/Double stout category.

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

2005 release in 22 oz bottle.
Pours a dark brown thick, dark chocolate color with a medium to small tan head(probably small due to the high alcohol content).

Smells of dark roasted coffee, currants, molasses and chocolate.

Tastes very sweet, malty with a nice bite about it. Chocolate, malt,currants, and a powerful alcohol taste. This is a strong beer and not for the timid. A damn fine brew and only $4.99 in Columbus,OH.
This beer may have a high alcohol kick to it, but you definately get a well balanced mix. There is so much going on in this brew that it is definately a must have for anyone that loves a good stout, or a strong brew.

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

Summer 2005 release. Pours a thick consistency, blacker than black, and totally opaque. Light brown head is dense and creamy, and reaches a full fist in hieght. The retention is excellent, holds a tight half-inch cap, but leaves only weak patchy lacing. Vinous dark fruit nose, with hints of bakers chocolate and cascade hops. The taste is boldy sweet at first, chocolate malt and roasted barley. Some fusel notes are perceived as it warms, but a dry, american hop bite in the aftertaste keep the ABV and sweetness in check. Finish is dry, but leaves some traces of fig/plum and a slight alcohol smack. The full body and flat carbonation lend an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel and combine with the well-rounded flavor to allow a high drinkability. Magnificent.

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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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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,340 ratings.
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