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: 8,250
Photo of unklesyd
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have this love/hate thing with Stone. I hate something about them, but I can't put my finger on it... but I love everything else about them, most especially their beers.

Looks the way a Imp. Stout should look. Pours thick.

Complex nose, subtle hop, dried fruits, ethanol back.

Fantastic palate and flavor, multilayered and creamy with a smooth butteriness and a bitterness from the hops that is well matched with the roast bitterness.

Not nearly as heavy as I thought; it is not fatigue inducing (well, on the body, perhaps on the mind... we'll see shortly).

Overall: an unsurprising surprise. For all the hype, I expected to be let down and was not even for a moment.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Damn, this is beer is kicking my ass tonight. After a big Notre Dame win versus Michigan, I knew I needed to pull somthing nice out tonight. Appears as black as any brew I've tried, this one does not overwhelm me like Stone's barleywine. Combined with a Smore and more chocolate, this one complements any dessert. Packs a nice punch, the sweet malts balances any taste of alcohol. Definitely worth the $4.99 22 oz bottle.

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

This was a bomber I bought at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a tulip-type glass. The bottle is absolutely beautiful, as are all Stone bottles.

This positively looks like used motor oil. Thick and black as the night sky. A decent brown head of foam forms on top with an average pour. Head eventually drops to a ring, with decent enough lacing on the glass. I can see no light whatsoever through this beer.

Aroma is dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla with fruits like dates or prunes. Very estery. Vanilla stands out as this warms. Alcohol, too. Having said all that, I have smelled better RIS's.

Flavor is (WOW, is this thick!) like a chocolate/coffee milk shake with extra molasses, very dark malts, sweet as hell but not cloying in any way. A strong dose of hop bittering, combined with all the dark malts balances the sweetness pretty well. Alcohol is in there, that's for damn sure. It's very fruity, but I'll be dipped in shit if I can describe them. Aftertaste is sweet dark malts and mocha coffee.

Mouthfeel is thick as hell, oily, but in a pleasant way, very slippery on your tongue. Carbonation is soft, alcohol present but well muted.

This is one really big sumbitch. I can feel it after half the bottle, and my tolerance is pretty damn high. I like this alot. It's not a session beer, nor is it something you would drink every day, but for every now and then, or special occasions, it's wonderful. Highly recommended.

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Photo of dwvarner77
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Limited Early Summer 2005 Release"

The bottle says it pours like Siberian crude, and it does just that. Leaves a thin quarter inch of thick deep brown-crimson head that falls to keep a nice lace. Completely opaque, I can only sense the slightest hint of light about the periphery, if that.
Nose is thick with chocolate, with a background of vanilla and coffee, even a hint of something like coconut. Catch no alcohol in the nose. Looks like this will be dangerous....
Taste is thick, deep with coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Sweet and malty, slight hop balance present, and the alcohol only hints at you with a warm taste in the belly.
Incredibly smooth, the slightest hint of carbonation keeps it from appearing syrupy. A bit of a thick texture at the back of the tongue, but not a detriment.
Big, thick, and strong, full of flavor, and dangerous b/c the ABV hides itself well. Could hit this again and again.

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Photo of soulfly967
4.73/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition.

Poured into my tulip glass a black blacker than any beer i have ever seen before. I held it up to the light in the kitchen... nothing... total darkness. She had a nice dark brown head that fell to a ring around the glass leaving no lacing at all. The smell is of roasted malts, molasses, fresh brewed coffee, rich dark chocolate, and hints of vanilla and alcohol. The taste was a powerful roasted malt, with chocolate, coffee leading into an aftertaste of slight hops alcohol and dark chocolate lingering on the tongue. The mouthfeel is rich, creamy, very thick and enjoyable. Very drinkable beer for an impy stout lover like myself. I cannot wait to try this one after it has some age on it. So good, so damn good.

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

22 ounce bomber

Appearance: Dark, black beer. When light strikes the glass, it shows through a really really dark brown. Dark brown head.

Aroma: Smells are roasty, creamy and slightly bitter. The smells are nutty and thick with breadyness. Vanilla and cherry fruit are lingering at the outskirts of the nostrils.

Taste: The mouthfeel is solid and coating. The bitter flavor, from the coffee and dark chocolate side of the roastyness, flows through the mouth, lingering through the mouthfeel. The depth of flavor here is dramatic to say the least.

Notes: A very solid Imperial Stout. Very much worth your time.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.82/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It looks like motor oil in my glass with a small tan head around the ring of my glass. It didn't pour with hardly any head. I have no idea how many bubbles are maintaining the's Black!

Aroma: There are some noticeable floral hops hanging out with the roast and alcohol aromatics. As it warms, the aromas get more intense, but you don't notice anything really different than when it was first poured except that the alcohol becomes more apparent.

Taste: Super rich beer! There is a lot more hops in this version than I think that I have ever tried. There are noticeable floral hops when you first taste this beer to go along with the roast and fruit flavors. You get slammed by the roast and hops initially and this really doesn't let up much until you get a syrupy slick warming sensation on the back of your I imagine taking a teaspoon full of Vicks salve would be like.

Opinion: Golly gee, this is not your ordinary beer! It is way big, and something that I personally would only drink on occasion. I shared a bottle with some of my club members at a brew-in yesterday, and I am glad I didn't try to tackle this beer on my own. I think that this beer would do well to sit down for at least two years at 50F to let the hops mellow and the alcohol to add complexity. Like this, it hits your palate with brute force.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.32/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aaak! This beer sure looks good, but it sure aint of me. Stone RIS pours an oily thick pitch black witha huge brown head. As the head disapates, it leave so great lacing. In the nose there is some dark chocolate and alcohol. The bottle mentions anise. That must be the scent that is turning me off. Same with the flavor. After a while of drinking, I’m starting to come around. I think its somewhat astringant. Hard to drink. I surley don’t think this is one of Stone’s best.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nightmare black pour. Fluffy head the color of espresso foam lasts for about 30 seconds. No lace, no ring, no cling, although it is obviously viscous and tarry. Not really expected at this high ABV.

Aroma meets me before I even get my nose in there. Powerful chocolate and coffee, shadowed by dark fruits, anise, charred malts, creme brule', and sweet alcohol. Very deep and complex nose.

Flavor starts off with unsweetened espresso mocha, high%-cacao dark chocolate, rum soaked plum and berries, creamy dark caramel, a hint of smoke, and piney/floral hops in the finish. A bit of sweetness is apparent somewhere in the middle, and in the finish. Superbly balanced. The level of hops is perfect and allows the glorious dark malt flavors to take center-stage. The finish on this beer is unbelievably long.

Mouthfeel is just shy of big, with a very oily, almost syrup-like texture and a slick, creamy mouthfeel. This beer is pure bliss to drink. It satisfies me on every level. Thank God I have one more bottle!

Thanks to GClarkage for the samples.

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Photo of drunkensailor
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My long wait for the 2005 vintage is over, and my tears of joy have yet to stop flowing. I had a single sip of this last year and have been counting th days since. On with the review.

So i poured from the bottle to glass and the color is rich dark black, couldn't see through to the other side. aroma is definately roasted with chocolate and coffee notes. Mouthfeel is full bodied with a lasting aftertaste. A bit rough around the edges as it leaves your mouth almost a bit puckered, but I have been assured that aging does wonders for this one. The head was thick caramel with a definate java note. I can't wait to drink this one again, and again, and again. Thank you Stone!!!

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Photo of mntlover
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage

Pours a dark deep black no light thru this one big fluffy chocolate head but not much lace.

Aroma is lots of roasted malt big coffee aromas mingled with alcohol and hops. Some chocolate and fruit mingled underneath.

Taste is well a little hot and rough on this one some cellaring should help mellow it to perfection. Taste is big lots of roasted malt packing big coffee flavors upfront. Have the fruit dipped in sweet chocolate underneath trying to mellow out some of the harshness. Alcohol is noted and finishes with a nice dose of hops pine/grapefruit west coast style.

Mouthfeel is nice big full flavored loads of malt.

Drinkability is good still a nice IRS but doesn't live up to the 04 yet which seemed perfect fresh. Then it has been a year and I have had lots of big Stouts since then so maybe my tastes have matured either way believe this one will only improve with age. Have to do a tasting this winter 04 vs 05.

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

Pours a pitch black color with no hue and has a minimal light brown head with very little lacing.

Roasted and nutty milk chocolate malt aroma with some molasses, and has pine and some herb with the smell of citrus hops.

Wow this is a good Stout, I'm savoring the taste. A moderately sweet and almost heavy bitter, roasted and nutty milk chocolate malt taste with molasses and coffee, flowery herbal and pine hops flavor with lime and grapefruit/orange.

Full bodied, dry and creamy texture, soft and lively carbonation, and has a smooth metallic and heavy alcohol finish with a light astringency.

Very drinkable for a RIS however something one would want to savor with a good steak or close the evening right before bed.

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Photo of AndIWantYou
3.86/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, the head on this beer is darker than most beers I'm drinking these days. Beautiful chocolate brown head and dark, almost syrupy-pouring beer. The taste isn't syrupy, though, as the carbonation cuts through nicely. The body in this beer reminds me of Double Bastard, but the flavor is (of course) a more chocolatey, coffee taste. I don't get the "dark fruits" that a RIS is supposed to contain, but I think my tongue (or my brain?) is less sensitive to the fruity esters that beers contain. This beer is probably too over-the-top for an August evening such as right now, but I think I'll be picking up another of these in the winter!

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Photo of Beaver13
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle of the Summer 2005 version. Pours a completely opaque midnight black. It has a small and fizzy head that is the darkest brown head I've seen. The head quickly goes down to a thin ring.

The aroma is sugary lactic cocoa with some anise, coffee and a little fruitiness.

The flavor is sweet chocolate and fruits that quickly morphs into a strong burnt, somewhat acidic, licorice bitterness with a noticeable alcohol finish. The mouthfeel is very full-bodied and viscous with light carbonation.

Overall, a solid brew. A little strong on the sweetness and the alcohol in my opinion.

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

This bottle obtained via BIF10 from Gueuzedude. Many thanks for this treat!

This is review #500

Wonderfully rich aroma of dark malts and fruits. Alcohol. Heavy rich sweetness. A slight oxidized state from aging. A little wild hop aroma hanging around on the fringes round it off nicely. Greatly complex.
Black as pitch, with one of the darkest heads ever that starts off heavy but in time settles into a persistent ring.
The flavor is the kicker on this. Extremely heavy and rich without being over the top. Roast more abundent than the fruits. Ever increasing bitterness rounds off the drink with an extended dryness. Again bold with without excess.
Thick and chewy mouthfeel of just the right lower level carbonation. Soft and smooth, but not quite velvety. Very nice nonetheless.
This drink holds all the right elements. Complete and complex. In the words of my fellow MN BA's Yum!

An early summer 2004 addition that I sat on for over 1 year. It's aged beautifully.

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

Pours an opaque black, black as night with a thick dark brown head. Very lacy. Smells malty, roasted maltiness, sweet chocolate malt and alcohol.

Tastes of alcohol, burnt malt and coffee. Milky too. Oaky vanilla. Tastes kind of like those little chocolate bottles filled with liquor. Rich malt and some alcochol burn in the finish. Creamy mouth and smoky on the back of the throat that lingers. A sipper to be sure but very good. Could stand a little aging and I'll bet it would age very well.

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

This was the 2004 release.

Pours from the bomber a jet black and stunningly thick with a nice brown head.

Smell is heavy hops, chocolate, and espresso.

Taste, oh the taste, was dark chocolate, coffee, and bitter hops up front. Body is very full and mouthfilling. Sweet malt is balanced by massive hops, and rounded out by the dark coffee taste. This is a massive beer. Finish is long and sweet with snappy and bitter hops.

Wow, what a beer. I couldn't drink too many of these in one sitting, definitely a sipper, however, it was calling my name long after it was gone. Amazing.

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4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Release

Jet black, sun-blocking, motor oil like liquid with a 1/4" tan head. The head fell down to a swirly cap rather quickly. Some lacing.

A intense roasted aroma and alcohol dominated the nose in its preliminary stages. As the beer warmed sweet dark fruits and malts were detectable. No doubt this beer has some hops but they are in the shadows.

The first thing that hit my tastebuds was saltiness. That faded quickly and was a strange sensation. As the beer opened up I detected licorice, espresso and burnt toast. This is a very deep complex tasting brew. I tasted some earth and nuttiness as well. The alcohol is very prominent in the taste right now as well. Best way to describe this RIS is intense!

The mouthfeel is thick, rich, full-bodied, and creamy. The beer has a very long finish with its burnt, roasted character swirling around the mouth long after it has been swallowed. It is definitely alcohol forward right now. Good for sipping, has a big warming effect.The drinkability will definitely improve with age. This could easily be part of the Vertical Epic series, I don't doubt at all that it will hold up that long.

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

This was quite possibly the greatest Imperial Stout I've ever had. Dark, rich, it was a treat to drink this. It poured black, witha brown head that laced as I drank it down. The aromas were so complex I don't really know where to start. There was Cherry, oak, chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla, and many more. The flavor was just as complex. It reminded me of a nice bourdeux, with lots of chocolate, coffee, roasted nuts, vanilla, cherries. The mouthfeel was silky smooth, and glorious. I can't say anymore other than wow.

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Photo of garbanzobean
4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Summer 2005 release. Stone Imperial Stout. "Russian" has been omitted from this release due to Uncle Sam's red tape. The laws restricting the naming of beer have recently been amended. This will be reflected in the next release.

Presentation: 22 ounce bomber. Standard Stone Brewery spiel. Poured into an Arrogant Bastard pint glass.

Appearance: Blacker than Lucifer's soul. Beautiful three-quarter inch thick head the color of toffee and brown sugar. Surprisingly little lacing.

Smell: Hints of chocolate, mocha, with a somewhat fruity undertone. Brown sugar and molasses dominate my nose. An entire dessert shop in one bottle.

Taste: Oh lord. Chocolately, sweet, wonderfully tasty. A bittersweet coffe/mocha flavor hits a second later. Hints of prune, and very little alcohol. Acidity and bitterness seem to keep each other perfectly in check. More than 4.5, less than 5.0, what am I to do?

Mouthfeel: Easily my favorite part of this beer. Smooth and creamy. Feels like a milk stout going down. Velvet is the first word that comes to mind. I would give it a 6 if I could.

Drinkability: Amazing. You WILL drink this a little too quickly; there is no stopping yourself.

overall: As a relatively inexperienced BA, this beer seems to fit PERFECTLY within it's style. This is a wonderful treat. A dessert unto itself. If you are a fan of big beers, you MUST try this.

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Photo of ejquin
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

App: Deep black with thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Little to no lacing.

Smell: A bit hoppy and citrusy with a touch of coffee and chocolate

Taste: Lots of coffee and chocolate. Bittersweet finish with the alcohol coming through to leave a small sting. Espresso aftertaste.

Mouth: Smei-heavy and slippery. Good carb.

Drink: Good

Overall: Very solid IRS from stout. There's still a few in my book that are better, but very good nonethless.

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

Update 9/21/2006: Tried the "early spring 2006 bottle". The mouthfeel is very good, somewhat creamy. finish is clean. Flavors are as before, I'm raising my original review from 3.5 to 4 on the taste and mouthfeel. The fizzy wisky is not as I originally reviewed - yes, there is some, but at over 10% I'd think some alcohol flavor exists. I'm finding "fizzy wisky" more like "rich RIS style" than I originally percieved. Year to year variation? I would say my tastes and perceptions are more the discrepancy here. In any case, TRY THIS!!!

This pours from the "early spring 2005 bottle" quite thick! Aaah, yes, the rich Imperial stout! Dark brown that light hardly passes through - I'll have to pour another during daylight to see if sunlight can peak through. No head, too much alcohol I guess.

smell - alcohol, malt and molassis. In a good way.

Taste - a bit thick on the alcohol, richly sweet, but hardly a balance that I would expect. I'll have to revisit that bottle of Great Lakes Blackout Stout and give it another try to compare, (I will update this review if my taste buds are skewed today), but it seems that this all alcohol and sweetness with little other stuff to balance it out. Too much like fizzy wiskey for my tastes.

Mouthfeel is a bit flat and thick too.

Finish is a little rough going down. That thickness turns a bit thick on the way down, with a bit of bitter unpleasentness.

I tend to like some Russian Imperial Stouts. I like Great Lakes Blackout and North Coasts Old Rasputin - but this one lacked the balance needed to hide the heavy alcohol a bit. Please try one anyway, I've love every other offering I have tried from Stone.

I will re-review this if I've found today was just an off day. I'm surprised I'm not giving this at least a 4, but it just isn't cutting it per my tastes.

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Photo of Px2GrafX
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

presentation: bomber with the usual stone gargoyl painted graphics. colors are silver and blue. for some reason the word "russian" isn't on the front of the bottle. it is however in stone's description on the back of the bottle. "limited early summer 2005 release" is printed on the bottle. serving temperature is displayed at 55 degrees and the ABV is displayed at 10.8%.

appearance: pours a midnight black with little noticible highlights into an oversided wine goblet. head is a half-inch burnt sienna color with tight fluffy bubbles. disapates quickly, but hidden bubbles rise to the top leaving a thin layer all the way down. lacing is minimal.

smell: sweet with a dominant espresso coffee nose. some alcohol and some chocolate and bananas after swirling.

taste: dominant coffee with caramel. roasted nuts and barley. very complex with prunes, chocolate and caramel taking turns taking command. medium bitter and light alcohol finish. i love it. so complex and yet very balanced.

mouthfeel: thick, smooth and creamy. good acidity and carbonation. perfect mouthfeel for this style in my opinion.

drinkability: very first. then the alcohol hits you. i noticed a little buzz by the end of the bomber from hasty drinking. as the brew warms, the alcohol taste becomes more evident. but you wanna drink it. you havta drink it....

overall: for the longest time north coast's old rasputin has been my favorite RIS, but this years RIS by stone is a little bit better. appearance and drinkability are the only things that bring it down. i've yet to drink a better russian imperial stout.

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Photo of mcclurmc
3.89/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Incredibly black - won't even let light shine through. A thick, chocolaty head with good amounts of lacing; the head recedes fairly quickly. The body is as thick as it is dark, pouring with a consistency almost like that of real maple syrup. Only light carbonation after the pour. If the head were a little thicker, alittle creamier, and lasted longer I would have given it a 5.0.

Very strong smelling at first, but less so as head dies down. I smell something that reminds me of soy sauce, also a little anise and coriander. The light carbonation probably lends to the dissipating nose. As it warms the nose starts to reappear, but slightly. At the end of the glass, I begin to smell the alcohol; but only slightly.

This is my first Imperial Stout, so I'm not sure exactly how this beer is *supposed* to taste. I definitely taste a medium-strong bitterness that lasts after I finish drinking. I can taste the anise and a malty sweetness very well. A slightly metallic aftertaste lingers a few moments after swallowing. The flavors change as the beer warms up and its character definitely moves towards that of a Scotch Ale.

This is exactly what I expected an Imperial Stout to feel like. It is very thick with a consistency like whole milk. It leaves a sticky sensation on my lips, as if I had been eating a candy. As thick as it was to begin with, it gets even thicker as it warms. Silky is probably a better way to describe it.

This is a very strong beer, not in any particular area but as a whole. It's bitter but not incredibly bitter. It's thick but not syrupy. It has a powerful nose that dissipates quickly. It's very malty but not quite like a Scotch Ale. It wasn't very carbonated, but I would expect as much from a stout without one of those little Guinness nitro-widget thingies. I think this beer might take me close to an hour to drink even if I wasn't writing a review while drinking it. Even so, the taste makes me wish I could drink it faster.

I like this beer. It has a good, strong taste that isn't characteristic of normal stouts. It has a beautiful appearance and incredible mouthfeel. It is incredibly dynamic as the flavors change while the beer warms. On the downside, it is a little hard to drink - this is definitely a meal in itself. I think the taste definitely improved as the beer warmed up, though towards the end the alcohol got a little strong. If it weren't for that and the quickly dissippating nose, I would have given this a very high score. Overall, however, a very good beer.

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

Black...opaque, with a minimal head by the time it arrived. Firm ring of foam atop the brew. The nose lacked the complexity that I was expecting, some coffee, a little licorice. But the taste...semi-sweet chocolate start, bitter coffee, anise and hops, all working together and standing apart. Where was all of this in the nose? Mouthfeel is oily, full and the finish is marathon length. All the flavors reappear and linger long after the swallow. Find it. Drink it. Enjoy.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
96 out of 100 based on 2,715 ratings.
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