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Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
8,397 Ratings
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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Ratings: 8,397 |  Reviews: 2,764
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look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Imperial Russian Stout opens with a lovely cream-and-malt aroma that bears, on the one hand, notes of heavy cream, brown sugar, vanilla, and caramel, and on the other, a far darker set of aromas including ash, tobacco, and chocolate and black malt. A good set of fruit esters, including fig, date, and plum, bring out more variety, as does a good undertone of milk chocolate. The nose does bear a strong touch of alcohol, but this blends nicely with the aromas, and in fact gives the beer a slight oak/carbon scent (though it has not been barrel aged). As a whole, the nose is quite nice, the aromas exactly what are to be expected of a beer of this style, being a good mélange of cream and ash. I can’t say there’s anything necessarily revelatory about the aromas, but they are still very enticing.

On the tongue, the beer opens up with a huge smack of ash, tobacco, and espresso that is far darker and stronger than the nose let on. These dark notes are quickly joined by dark sugars--molasses, brown sugar, and fig, date, and plum fruit esters--as well as touches of heavy cream, vanilla, and anise. But the ashy notes nicely dominate the brew, giving it a solid earthy feel. There is a strong alcohol presence (10.5% ABV) throughout the mouthful, adding a vodka-like tinge to the edges, as well as touches of carbon, marking one of the beer’s few weaknesses. The aftertaste is mainly ash and tobacco, with remnants of cream and sugar, and lasts for a decent time. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-heavy, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is good fare, though I did find myself somehow wanting a bit more. Not from the ashy notes, but perhaps a few more sugars, or an additional layer of flavor to help bring out what is already there. This beer seems, in other words, to cry out for a bit of barrel aging, as a bourbon undertone would nicely complement the alcoholic, ashy tones. Still, even without this, it’s still a very nice stout, and worth trying.

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look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stem-goblet at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, California. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average; Stone is direly overrated but I heard good things about this brew in particular, and I like the style.

Paired with sweet potato fries.

A: Pours a half finger head of khaki colour, nice cream, okay thickness, and bad retention. Colour of the body is a nontransparent solid opaque black. I prefer the head colour of beers in this style to be more of a tan - the darker the better - but khaki does alright. I'm not anticipating a great beer, though. Due to the nontransparency, no yeast particles are visible (if they're there).

Sm: Vanilla, cream, chocolate, caramel, and hints of roast. A mild strength aroma. Roast should be more present given the style. I'm alerted.

T: Generic chocolate and tame cream over a dark malt (chocolate malt inclusive) foundation with underlying caramel. Some vanilla hints that don't amount to much. No real layering here. Not at all complex for the style. Stone played this beer surprisingly safe. Why is it they pick this style to do that on? They seem to force unwelcome flavours into most otherwise simple styles. Decently balanced but built without boldness, experimentation, or inspiration. As Imperial Stouts come, this is pretty generic.

Mf: Silky smooth and wet. Completely wrong for the style; a stout demands dryness and coarseness (from roast) overcome masterfully by cream. That isn't the case here. Too thin. Adequate carbonation.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. Russian Imperial stouts like this one are a dime a dozen nowadays. There are far better beers in the style, even at the same or lesser price. It's decent, and I might pick it up in bottled form at a good price, but don't expect masterful brewing. I wouldn't recommend it to friends. In fairness, it'd be a pretty good beginner's Russian Imperial Stout. My main problem with it surrounds its lack of inspiration or specialization; as a generic example of the style it'd be a good introduction for people new to the style.

A decent candidate for aging, but I wouldn't do it meself.

Would pair okay with chocolate. Not real suitable to barbecue.


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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,397 ratings
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