Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Imperial Russian StoutImperial Russian Stout
8,411 Ratings
Imperial Russian StoutImperial 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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 8,411 |  Reviews: 2,770
Photo of tzieser
4.06/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spring 2009 vintage bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: pours a pitch black color with a two-plus head which is tan in color. Great retention. Very impressed with the carbonation level after 2 years of cellaring.

S: sweet malty profile. big notes of chocolate and roasted malt. not a strong nose, but rich nonetheless.

T: amazing flavor. Well rounded. Nice a sweet but not overly so. Notes of chocolate syrup, roasted chocolate malts and coffee. Alcohol is noticible but not unpleasant. Extremely warming in the 28 degree chill. Very well done.

M&D: smooth mouthfeel; good drinkability.

I think the age diminished much of the hop character quite a bit. West coast imperial stouts are always too damn hoppy in my opinion, so I'm glad I put some age on it. Not the best RIS but still very good. Recommended.

 811 characters

Photo of brendanbeer
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served on tap at barcarde in brooklyn.

a. lovely dark black, looks very thick, with an everlasting rich brown head.

s. smells of malty goodness and chocolate coffee bitter sweeteness. tempting.

t. really dark and thick chocolate notes and coffee notes. overall really malty and good with a nice balanced bitterness.

m. mouthfeel is amazing, very thick and rich, but not overpowering.

d. i could drink this all night. thanks stone!

 436 characters

Photo of mattsdenney
4.85/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from bomber into my New Belgium globe glass.

A: Pours thick and black with a frothy brown head.

S: Roasted chocolate malt, strong coffee.

T: First time having Stone goes. Strong tastes of dark chocolate, toffee, coffee. Hints of alcohol but not overbearing like other RIS's that I've had. Tastes amazing, exceeds even its own hype.

M: Creamy and smooth. Not as heavy as it looks.

D: This is good; wish I'd bought more. This beer has been elusive in Nashville but I'm glad I finally tracked it down. jVery drinkable, very tasty. This will be a go-to cold weather beer for me for a long time to come.

 622 characters

Photo of BarrytheBear
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage poured multiple times into a small wine glass while watching Step Brothers at the cabin in the woods. There are few things better than spending consecutive contemplative winter evening next to a fire, drinking aged stouts, and watching movies. "I tea bagged your drum set."

Black with a crimson hell-fire edges and a reverse cascade of creamed coffee colored head that emerges from the center of the glass and then dives back below the murky surface.

Smells of berries and cream, or more specifically blackberries. Medium roast coffee joins midway through and leaves with a long dark chocolate bar finish. Very smooth and well integrated and much less hoppy than when fresh. Dark fruits wrap the chocolate finish.

Coats the mouth nicely and finishes prickly on the back of the tongue with a lingering bitterness. Booziness is kept mostly in check, especially considering I recall fresh bottles being quite hot. There is, however, a mild burn that reminds you of the abv. While time has mellowed this out substantially, I feel like some of the real pop of this stout has been lost. Enjoyable, but not quite what this was or could be.

 1,149 characters

Photo of JizackFH
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - This beer pours a deep black color, and has a 2-finger dark tan head on it. There was good lacing left on the glass.

S - this smells of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, hops, anise, and some alcohol notes.

T - The taste is sweet and roasty up front, and there is also a nice hop presence. The alcohol is hidden super well. There are nice chocolate, coffee, and licorice notes that shine through. The finish is a bit hoppy with some chocolate notes, and there is also some alcohol warmth.

M - It has a full body with the right amount of carbonation. It coasts the mouth nicely, and it is a bit sticky. The coffee and hop nots in the finish stay around and linger for a little while.

D - This has good drinkability. It goes down easy, and I think its a very good RIS. I would certainly try another bottle of this.

 820 characters

Photo of CraftAleRookie
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a 9 ounce tasting tumbler, number 2 in a series of tastings for the 2010 Holiday.

A- Black, pitch black. Foamy tan head (1 finger) that turns into a nice lace.

S- Coffee! Chocolate, cheerios, anise.

T- Smooth, malty stout. All of the tastes that were aluded to in the smell are very subtle- it doesn't overpower with coffee or chocolate, but rather hints to everything that is presented on the nose. A very well balanced R.I.S.

M- Very bold, very fizzy, good overall feel. Lively.

D- a stout lover's brew, very drinkable (albiet on the strong side)- sip and enjoy!

 579 characters

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a New Belgium globe. This bottle is a year old.

A: Jet black with a two-finger tan head. Retention is decent, lacing is ample and very sticky.

S: Plum, black currant, raisin, juicy black raspberries. Faint earthy and herbal hops with hints of pine and citrus. Subtle charcoal, baker's chocolate, and coffee beans. Spicy alcohol. A rather delicate, but highly complex nose.

T: An aggressive bite of bitter, earthy, resinous hops assaults the palate first, but quickly subsides and is pushed aside by the fruity esters. These esters boast a lot of depth, divulging tastes of plum, black currants, raspberries, figs, dates, and some vinous flavors. A strong spicy alcohol character rears its head, but is far from overpowering. Molasses and a nice charcoal impression ride alongside the esters and linger on into the finish. Dark chocolate and sweeter cocoa tastes come out intermittently. Finishes with coffee, hints of smoke, resinous hops, and vinous tastes.

M: Thick, syrupy, mouth coating, and silky smooth. Slight astringency. Alcohol warms the whole body.

D: Good, but definitely a sipper.

Notes: Excellent. Very true to style. Somewhat delicate in taste, but very complex. A good recommendation for anyone who enjoys red wine.

 1,264 characters

Photo of markrubbo
3.93/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An amazing Russian Imperial Stout. Color black as ink. Medium-heavy body. Good head retention. Big malt and roasted flavors. A bit too alcoholy. I wish it were balanced a bit more with spices or hops.

A great winter warmer, perfect as an after dinner sipper.

 260 characters

Photo of Strix
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick dark black with chocolate-colored head.

Smells slightly boozy, with dark chocolate and dark fruits.

Dark fruits, dark chocolate, alcohol, and a slight grapefruit hop finish.

Mouthfeel velvety and fairly thick.

This was quite enjoyable. A very solid, but not mindblowing RIS.

 291 characters

Photo of pburland23
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber dated "Limited Spring 2009 Release" into my Great Divide Brussels glass.

Pours a beautiful deep, dark black. When held up to the light, the beer proves to be almost totally opaque. I see some tinges of dark brown. Pours about a finger of light brown head that quickly receded and did not leave any lacing. It's a beautiful pour.

Nose is strong on roasted malts, alcohol, dark coffee, and a touch of fruitiness that I'm having trouble placing...blackberries, perhaps?

This beer is intense in flavor. It hits you hard with roasted malts, a black currant flavor and an undeniable booziness. I find that the fruitiness and the alcohol overpower the malts and make for an uneven drinking experience.

This is a thick, viscous, full-bodied beer that's a definite sipper at 10.5%. Truth to be told, I was expecting a little more from Stone on this one. Russian Imperial Stout just seems a little misaligned and as I mentioned, it makes for an uneven drink. I'd like to pick up another body and lay it down for a few years to see if the rough edges are smoothed out.

 1,091 characters

Photo of pumptrick
5/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Been my favorite for years and now reviewing it. Lourdes into reidel stemless dark black little brown head. Beautiful to look into. Smells of roasty goodness. Tastes of roasty chocalte and coffe. Bitterness is there along with the alcohol. I love this beer and could put down several. My closet thanks me. Cheers

 312 characters

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.12/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review #100. Poured into a snifter from a 22oz 2010 Edition.
Solid black with a deep tan, half inch head. The lace is there but pretty minimal. The alcohol content is stronger then previous years so that might have something to do with it.
Smells like chocolate (bittersweet), expresso, cherries, plums, lemon and booze. Very appealing.
The taste matches the smeLl but is a bit heavy on the alcohol. It really overwhelms the palate. Naybe aging would do this years release some good. It would make sense too being that they are changing it up with Belgian Yeast next year. It's thick and heavy as always.
I'll grab a few to cellar for sure. I personally can't wait to compare it to next year's release.

 702 characters

Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from 12/09/2010:

22 oz. bottle at 48* into a Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip/snifter.

A: This pours pitch black with a fingerful of very dark khaki head that leaves thick walls of clingy lace.

S: The nose shows more dark fruit aromas than most Imperial Stouts; it also shows notes of mild roastiness, dark chocolate, and some phenol esters.

T: Currants, figs, plums, and anise dominate the palate with lesser notes of roasty coffee, chocolate, and some bourbon.

M: It is creamy and mouth-watering but the body is much thinner than I had hoped.

D: This is a good Imperial Stout but I remember the '09 being better.

Edit -

2011 Version. 22 oz bottle into a Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip/snifter.

A: Black as night with two fingers of very dark head.

S: Cocoa, anise, mild espresso, and toasty malts.

T: Very balanced: chcolate, espresso, tasty dark fruitiness, lactic cream, and a little char.

M: Medium-thick, a little creamy, and features some heat at the back end.

O: Great beer - better than 2010 but not quite as good as 2009.

 1,057 characters

Photo of Teleweizen2
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes.

A - pours a deep inky black hue with a billowing tan head.

S - huge amounts of chocolate. Lots of roasted malts. Reminiscent of brownies. As it warms a mildly smokey, and more coffee aromas become apparent.

T - follows the nose. Tons of sweet chocolate balance the intensely bitter roasted malts and soft herbal hops. Lingering bitterness and some alcohol heat on the finish.

M - thick and viscous. But smooth almost slick. Decent level of carb.

D - nice RIS. For as bitter as it is, it is very drinkable but a strong sipper.

 542 characters

Photo of haazer
4.66/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my oversized pint glass(22oz), perfect for bombers. Had it in the fridge for a while, and let sit for about 40 mins to warm.

A- Complete, utter darkness pours out from behind the gun smoke from the bottleneck of this beer. No other colors present. A thick billowing brown head develops at the top of the glass and refuses to move, until the carbonation underneath forces the darkness to rise. Leaves about one finger head retention, and lacing on the glass. Can't get much better.

S- A very good smelling RIS. Most of the aroma's have a roasty scent to them. Those aromas including, chocolate, coffee, caramel, peanut butter, and a fruity flavor which I can't identify, which I'll assume is the black currant.

T- I sat and sipped this for a good ten minutes swirling the brew around before making my notes. This takes you on a flavor journey. Flavors hit you in three waves. In the beginning is a delicious milk chocolate/caramel similar to that of a milky way. Next is a natural sugar fruit like sweetness, almost cherry in flavor from what I'm used to, but again must to the black currant making its presence known. At the end of this flavor pendulum is the usual guilty party of dry roasted malts. Then trailing that is the warm tingling sensation of the 10.5% abv, which is tiniest reminder of how big the beer your drinking is.

M- This beer to me can be drunk even with dry mouth. Such a smooth, rich and full bodied experience this is! Halfway through the bomber and the alcohol has not dried my palatte at all. This is what a stout should feel like. Creamy, chewy, and bready. Check, check, check.

D- My first offering from Stone, certainly not my last. Possibly the best stout I've ever had. I have been looking forward to trying this for awhile now and was not let down at all. I deffinitely would like to get a case of this in the future, and open one every 3-6 months like it suggests. Dont believe the line on the bottle "we guarantee that no sin was committed in the production of this seemingly pernicious brew", Stone deffinitely struck a deal with the devil on this one.

 2,103 characters

Photo of JamesMcPolin
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bomber, that has been properly cellared for over two years, into a snifter. Anticipation building, as this is one of the oldest I haven't drunk already in the cellar.

Appearance: pours with a nice looking head, tan in color, a little lighter than one might expect. Dissipates fairly quickly but retains a darker colored ring around the glass with decent lace.

Smell: Interestingly, you'd get more aroma from a brand new 2010 release than what I'm getting right now, not sure if that's typical of aging but had a similar experience recently with a serpent stout from lost abbey I aged. Definitely good though, classic roasted malt aroma and more chocolaty than coffee.

Taste: First sip, freshly cracked, palate gets bathed in artisanal chocolate. When it comes to the 10.8% alcohol, forget well-hidden, it's gone. I'm talking practically undetectable in the first glass. Even as it warms, if I didn't already know the abv and someone told me it was 7.5 or 8% I'd believe it. Coffee notes seemed more muted at first but became more and more delicious as it approached room temp. Trust me; it's hard not to drink it all before reaching that point. I'm nursing the last few sips left as I type this. Wish I had aged two so I could have another to drink at this temp from the start.

Mouth feel: excellent. It must be said first that imperial stouts and imperial porters are my favorite styles so my idea of body is slanted toward loving massive brews. That being said, in very relative terms, the aging seems to have really lightened the mouthfeel. But again, I could always go for thicker.

Drinkability: Not hard to drink at all. In fact, hard to not drink it all too fast before it warmed and got complex. Little bummed I drank it too fast, two years to age, 15mins to go down the hatch even while typing, LOL. But an all around excellent brew. I think '08 was a great year for Stone's Russian Imperial, right in there behind '05 and '02.

 1,959 characters

Photo of SuperNova777
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Date Spring of 09'

A:Pours a un-phasing oil black with a fingers worth of tan head, excellent lacing
is left down the glass.

S:Awesome smell coming up in the nose seems like flavors really developed in the bottle. First that comes up is bittersweet chocolate along with some coffee as well. Along with that roasted malts and maybe a hint of licorice.

T:A little sweetness comes thru up front followed up with some roastiness. The backend
is dominated by the chocolate that lingers around on the palate. I seem to have a hard time not keep taking sip after sip.

M:Body fits the brew great with just the right amount of carbonation. The palate is left
coated with roasted and chocolate goodness along with a stickiness left on the lips.

D:Stone says to open one of these every 6 months and see how it develops, well this one is about 18 months old and its doing great!! Great flavors coming thru with a crazy easy drink for ABV since you can't even feel or taste it. Hands down one of the best RIS brews I have had all year.

 1,044 characters

Photo of CoastieSimon
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Great Example of a RIS. Pours very black and glugs as it comes out, thats how you know its going to be thick! 2 Finger Chocolate colored head. First sip is good can taste some of the booze and coffee up front but where this beer really shines is the aftertaste! A great coffee roasted aftertaste that leaves you wanting more and more. With an ABV of 10.5 I had one, and probably could have shared it with another person. Once again a great example of what an RIS should taste like.

 481 characters

Photo of Brabander
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Last sunday we had a beer tasting session at my house with three other BA's and a bunch of friends. Poured in a tasting glass the beer looks like a stout should have to look. Dark, dark dark! Nice dark head and the carbonation can't be seen.

Nice aromas come into the nose, dark chocolate and coffee. The sips i had were soft and somewhat sweet. Not a bad stout at all...and that's been said by a stout critic.

 411 characters

Photo of wvsabbath
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving Type - 22oz Bottle

Appearance - Thick, black with some tan, traces of red, little creamy head

Smell - Alcohol, hops, barley, malts, spices, chocolate and coffee

Taste - A real imperial stout. Strong alcohol mixed with malts, barley and hops. Spices are low, as is the chocolate flavors. The coffee is bold and doesnt sweeten this at all. Its not cute and loaded with syrups and chocolate, its a true russian imperial stout.

Mouthfeel - Thick and strong, coats whole mouth, warms and burns tounge some, leaves a hoppy and bold malt taste. Aftertaste has some coffee and hops to it.

Drinkabily - On these cold winter nights, this is totally what you need to get you through the nights. A 22ozer is perfect to enjoy this. Its strong so be careful. Its really drinkabily being 10.5%. Id rank it higher if it wasnt so high alcohol. Fantastic, what you want in a imperial stout. One of the best

 901 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
5/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite beer on planet earth so far. Too bad it's only brewed once a year... 2010 version

A: Pitch black with an impressive khaki head

S: Big anise smell accompanies alcohol and slight burnt coffee/chocolate

T: Extremely complex, get a bunch of the burnt coffee and anise along with slight alcohol burn

M: Big and bold

D: If I could manage more than a bomber in a sitting I would, without a doubt

Now, the 2011 'classic release' version. Perception of this beer still has not changed, but my reviewing skills certainly have improved.

A: Pours a pitch black with about a fingers worth of chocolate brown head. No light is getting through this one, that's for sure

S: Very nice coffee, chocolate, burnt malts, and hints of licorice/anise

T: Very complex, starts off with a bit of dark chocolate and then goes into some coffee and anise, followed by big, roasty malts. Alcohol is somehow missing. Very impressive given the 10.5%

M: Heavy with moderate carbonation. Very slick compared to some other RIS's. Isn't clingy at all, which is a very nice surprise as well

O: This is still definitely one of my favorite beers. Just so amazingly complex and somehow too easy to finish. Now, I need to try the anise odd year version and see how it stacks up

 1,259 characters

Photo of Blanco
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

looks like a stout with but with a quickly disappearing head. the smell is sweet with chocolate and roast malt notes. the taste is mildly chocolate, with a hint of bitterness. sweetness is subdued and is a bit drier than expected. the alcohol is definitely in forefront but not unpleasant. adds just a bit of heat. licorice in the finish. solid RIS, it's a sipper and glad I tried it. might grab a few more '10s to hang onto if I see them around, but won't go out of my way.

 474 characters

Photo of nkersten
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a NB globe. Pitch black with a one finger light tan head that fades into a cap with excellent lacing. Smell is huge milk chocolate, some roasted malt, a hint of fresh light roast coffee and hops. Taste is a mix between sweet milk chocolate and slightly bitter hops, followed by some roasted malt and some bitter bakers chocolate in the finish. Mouthfeel is heavy with a medium light carbonation. This is a very drinkable RIS. I dont remember the past years of this beer having as much chocolate flavor, but it is delicious as always.

 545 characters

Photo of hawks10
3.65/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle - 2010 vintage - Poured into a pint glass...

Pours black with a little crimson around the edges. Two fingers of tan head forms and sticks around for a while, leaving a lot of lacing behind...

Roasted malts and bittersweet dark chocolate, a little bit of anise and alcohol as well...

Roasted, bitter dark chocolate. Alcohol heat shows up a bit. Standard edition Russian Imperial Stout, run of the mill. A bit of residual sweetness in the finish, mixed with a booze burn...

Medium to full bodied. Slightly bitter, finishes bitter with some booze showing through...

 578 characters

Photo of cetherid
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip


a very dark stout. Held up to the light you get some brownish reddish hues, but very dark. About a fingers worth of mocha head that dissipated quickly.


roasted coffee and bitter chocolate. A little earthiness in there as well. Typical RIS. Nothing really stands out too much.


Better than smell. Nice roasted malts. A little sweet caramelness to it with a nice little hop bite. Subtle mocha aftertaste A little alcohol presence in there as well. Pretty darn tasty!


almost full bodied. Good amount of carbonation. A nice mouthfeel combo of sweetness and bitterness. A good balance.


pretty high. A little boozy but not TOO bad. Easily accessible as well and not terribly expensive. Would love to try this on tap. This bottle might be a little old (got as an extra in a trade) I can see myself getting a bomber of this every once in awhile.

 883 characters

Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,411 ratings