Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

8,373 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: 8,373 |  Reviews: 2,757
Photo of YouSkeete
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Oily flat black with a dark brown head. Some lacing

S: Roasted coffee and malts, dark chocolate and alcohol. There are slight notes of dark fruits but they're masked by the huge coffee and chocolate aroma. Fruity scent still clear and apparent though.

T: Huge rich coffee taste and huge bittersweet dark chocolate. On the more malty and sweet side than anything else. After the initial swallow the dark fruits come to be more present. The 10.5% abv is not as harsh as other 10%'s i've had, especially because of the heavy emphasis on the smooth malty flavor in the beer. Exceptionally well balanced.

M: Extraordinarily smooth, very full bodied, medium carbonation. As syrupy and oily as the BP oil spill... but not as overwhelming HA.

D: Terrifyingly outstanding. A perfect brew.

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Photo of billab914
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my very appropriate Stone RIS glass. It poured pitch black with a modest tan head filling the rest of the glass. The head faded to a thin ring around the edge of the glass where it left some moderate lacing.

The aroma is full of chocolate and roasted malts. The roasted malts bring a bitter, slightly burnt flavor along with some coffee and the chocolate really smooths it out. A bit of vanilla is present in it as well. Very flavorful aroma to it overall.

The taste shows a pretty big dark chocolate flavor to it. It's bitter-sweet at first but more of the dark and roasted malts come through towards the finish. Some coffee and burnt flavors come through as well. it has a great mix of the sweeter chocolate and malty flavors and the bitter and roasted flavors. Great beer overall for the style.

The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with carbonation being on the lower side. Very nice for the style and just how I like my big stouts. Drinkability is good, it was a very flavorful with a lot of very good flavors all coming together nicely. Excellent beer overall.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black pour from the bomber into a tulip glass. A dirty tan short head formed. Held up to the light, not even on the edges is the light coming though. Looks beautiful.

S - Dark malt, caramel and ALCOHOL.

T - Malty, but not too sweet. There is a coffee kind of bitterness. Alcohol lingering minutes afterward.

M - Full bodied, my tongue is going numb from the alcohol. Light carbonation. Excellent.

D - This is perfect for a cold, stormy day in front of the fireplace. It will warm you up nicely. It hits the notes for a Imperial Russian Stout. Even though Stone gives fair warning on the bottle that it is loaded is alcohol, I would prefer a little less on the nose. Minor complaint. Excellent stout.

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

Appearance - Poured BLACK from 22oz into a snifter.

Smell - roasted malts, coffee, and a bit of booziness. Some caramel comes through with the booze.

Taste - Dark chocolate and caramel on the finish.

Mouthfeel - is a great beer with a rich full mouthfeel.

goes down very easy for the alcohol in the bottle. Scary good!

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Photo of JMforman
4.88/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Great value for such a fine stout!

A- Poured from a bomber into a standard pint glass. A small tan head, with good lacing. Head went away quickly.

S- Milk Chocolate, caramel, and the faintest hint of some hops

T- Chocolate, toffee, and coffee on the front end. A bit of alcohol burn on the tail end

M- Pretty full mouthfeel. Very smooth and creamy.

D- Freaking fantastic! Pretty smooth for a 10.5. Might end up in the ER if you're not careful.

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Photo of adam42381
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into a nonic pint glass. 2010 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a motor oil black with a 2 finger creamy dark tan head. Excellent lacing. Looks pretty much perfect for a stout.

Smell: Chocolate, toffee, roasted malt, coffee and a light hint of alcohol.

Taste: Chocolate and roasted malt up front followed by dried fruits and dark roasted coffee in the middle and finishing with a nice hoppy bitterness and a touch of alcohol. Aftertaste is bitter and long-lasting.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Very smooth and creamy.

Drinkability: High drinkability. Sit back, relax and savor this one. It's a sipper that keeps you wanting more.

Overall: Excellent beer overall. Perfect for a cold winter evening. I would highly recommend Stone IRS to anyone.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this bomber at Beverage Warehouse in Winooski VT for $6.99. Limited Spring 2010 Release. Served cold in a chilled tulip. I've been looking forward to this one for a while.

Pitch black brew lets zero light through and throws up a thick 1" of deep brown foam from its murky depths. Aroma has the requisite smoky roasted barley and chocolate, but it isn't dry or bitter because warm sweet vanilla melds in beautifully to round it out. In the taste the vanilla sweetness is much less prominent and the brew exhibits a moderately strong astringent edge. Feel is thick and hearty, a seriously dense beer, creamy and smooth, with a mild but surprisingly sharp carbonation that prickles a little as it pokes through. There's a strong but mostly hidden alcohol bite that I perhaps lends some assertiveness to the carbo. Back to the taste... huge dense flavors of semi-sweet chocolate, vanillin, a great balance between dry roasted barley and sweet caramel, some spicy alcohol gives it a bite but is kept mostly to the sidelines, thick bready backbone. Moderate amount of lace throughout the session. Very filling brew.

Dense, huge, massive brew. It is this years' vintage and it's already very smooth... can't imagine how luscious it might be after cellaring for a year or two. I might have to find out. Highly recommended, just the kind of massive stout I've been jonesing for for quite a while.

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Photo of SDtastentune
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark Dark dirty motor oil. hardly any head but I pour it slow yo! No lace almost at all.

S - Coffee, roastiness, alcoholish, deep malts, dark chocolate.

T - Very vibrant coffee, roasted malts, alcohol, balanced though.

M - Lower carbonation but no too low, just perfect I think, Not much fizz, but good carbonation not over the top.

D - Drinks great, very balanced and complex, I can have a few but its expensive usually $7-$8 bucks a bottle. Great beer with meat or dinner, or whenever. This is one of my favorites, cant beat this brew with much else, but its ol' skool & Ive been told the recipe is from way back & there are some others with the same quality's/flavor. Thumbs WAY up!

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Photo of socon67
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

A - Jet black with a dark brown foam. A teeny amount of lacing near the top.

S - Lots of things going on here. Smells of coffee, specifically bold espresso. There is also some anise, which makes me feel like I'm drinking the beer equivalent of an italian appertif. Nice!

T - An awesome RIS, the roasted maltiness comes at you like a good oatmeal stout, but with some other flavors like vanilla, coffee, and caramel.

M - Its heavy. This is not a brew for lightweights. Bring a fork.

D - It is really best to have one, savor, and relax. Somehow Stone has made this heavy stout very drinkable though. No effort to drink this.

I love Imperial Stouts and this is a perfect example to try and introduce to others.

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Photo of metter98
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with only a few beige bubbles floating on the surface and around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of licorice and roasted coffee beans in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather complex and has flavors of bittersweet chocolate, coffee beans and licorice.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and rather smooth on the palate. Some warming sensations from the alcohol are present.
D: This beer is definitely one that needs to be slowly sipped given its alcohol content; it would take me a long time to finish a 750mL bottle by myself. This is an excellent representation of the style so I will definitely try another of these again.

Note: 2009 release

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Photo of bobhits
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Two finger head, nice lacing, black body, brown pour. blahb lah blah. A touch oily compared to an oatmeal but maybe a hair less dense than some of the biggest russians.

Roasted, toasted, chocolate malts. A touch of hops. As expected.

Sweet vanilla. The burnt flavors are subtle in a way where they mix perfectly with the rest of the beer. Look it's an imperial russian stout. Think mellow on the hops and mellow on the burnt flavors. This mix is just exceptional!

Mouth feel is creamy, thick, carbonated, and just wonderful.

You can sip on this for hours. It'll eventually get to heavy but you'll be drunk as hell by then.

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Photo of Lukecook
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle

A- Jet black with 1 finger of mocha head, head diminshes to a thin layer of foam, decent lacing.

S- bitter chocolate and roasted coffee.

T- Same as the nose, the only detection of alchol is the warm sensation in my stomach, this is a really smooth beer.

M- Full bodied with light carbonation.

D- I will definetly stock up on this beer next spring, I am turning into a big Stone fan!

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Photo of mkorpal
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Spring 2010 bomber poured into my well traveled New Belgium sniffer on Oct. 20th while watching The Professional. It seemed like a good match there. 7.99 for the bottle seemed like a good investment.

Pours a jet black, with no hint of clear or red or anything. Thin wispy head, dark tan, hangs on top. Not a ton of head with this beer. But thats ok.

Nice nose of burnt malts, much like coffee, and some nice fruity esters. Also some hints of chocolate. The nose is quite forward, and it doesn't take much to pick it up. I like that, some stouts seem really light on the nose. This one is right there in your face.

Taste is huge on the coffee and chocolate mix. The esters take a backseat in the taste, just giving a little fruity mix to the beer.

Mouthfeel coats your tongue sweet syrupy goodness. it is a bit heavier than it could be, but it is within acceptable range of an Impy Stout.

Drinkable, well, it's nothing to guzzle down, thats for sure, and the booze can start to get you a bit loopy by the end.

The taste gets even better as it warms. Awesome brew, can drink this any time. I suggest picking up a case when it becomes available.

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

22 oz. bottle purchased 10/20/2010 in Westfield, MA.

Appearance- Just the bottle itself is amazing. Great artwork, great story on the back. But anyone can market a beer. Let's see what Stone brings forth this time. A slow pour results in a thick, used motor oil viscous liquid. The head that forms on the top is about 1 finger, and it's a beautiful light brown creme color. This is definitely a pretty beer. Looks exceptional.

Smell- Coffee with cream. Mocha. Chocolate. Caramel. Raisins. So many beautiful things going on in this nose. I LOVE it.

Taste- Wow. Dark chocolate everywhere. Lots of coffee. Slight raisin finish. Tons of roasted flavors. I'm not going to type a big long description because when you try it, the taste will speak for itself. Amazing.

Mouthfeel- Nice and thick. Nice and slick. Just like a big RIS should be.

Drinkability- I'm going out and buying a case. I'll be drinking this all winter. This is a GREAT russian imperial stout at a very fair price.

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Photo of surlytheduff
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz into pint glass. Got a chubby two finger head, with the foam the color of a root beer float, and took an awful long time to settle down. Beer was pitch black.

Smelled rich - deep roasted malts, little bit of coffee, molasses.

Taste is fantastic. Being in Michigan this time of year, I've been drinking a fair bit of FBS. My mouth was not prepared for the focused assault of rich strong stout, with it's more focused maltiness. Tasted smokey, a bit chocolaty with fleeting tastes of dates or raisins.

Felt incredibly smooth and rich in the mouth, carbonated with a wonderful chewiness to the drink. For me, this beer ranks right up near the top in the drinkability category.

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Photo of NODAK
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Aroma is of bitter roasted malts, and quite a bit of coffee. I'd say that coffee is the predominant smell on this.

Pours dark as night in my pint glass...with about an inch head of dark brown foam.

Mouthfeel is thick...very thick. Very sweet and heavily malty on the front...certainly high on the sugars, with a molasses thickness. Fades into a finish that has bitter dark chocolate, a definite coffee presence, thick molasses, along with a small hoppiness that isn't too strong at the swallow, but has a aspirin-like tendency to stick around on the sides of the tongue for a while into the aftertaste. However, after a few swallows this bitterness becomes a lot less pronounced.

Definitely one of the sweeter RIS's that I have had.. It's also one of the thickest I've ever had. The hoppiness also is more than is found in most RIS's, even if it isn't all that permeating.

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Photo of patobandito
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black colored with red hints, little light brown head. Deep, licoricy, roasted and mildly vanilla aroma, dry coffee. Medium to full bodied. Flavor is rich as well, roasted licorice notes dominate, some vanilla and bitter hops also here. One of the best Stouts ive ever had the pleasure of drinking, and its on my yearly must buy list

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

5 ounce sample poured at a recent tasting party. Pours pitch black with a thin tan head.

Smell was of roasted malts, chocolate, and mild hints of coffee.

Taste backed up the nose with the chocolate and roasted malts dominating. Maybe a little bit of smokiness and some heat from the alcohol.

Mouth feel was smooth and creamy. Thick body allows the flavors to linger in your mouth. An excellent RIS that can best be enjoyed slowly on a cool fall or winter night.

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Photo of msmezher
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've posted a few reviews of Stone beers so far with a disclaimer that I used to dislike Stone Brewery. At this point my mind is completely changed, and i'm enormously impressed with this beer, as well as the last two i reviewed, Ruination IPA and Juxtaposition Black Pilsner.
Russian Imperial is very fluid and light bodied with little carbonation and a strongly structured long lasting head. I poured this out into a pint glass and watched the head die down slowly over the black, chocolaty body. The taste was by far the beast part of the beer, rich chocolate, faint coffee, raisins and molasses. Overall one of the better stouts I've had this year (only surpassed by a few barrel aged ones such as The Abyss which dent your pocket quite a bit more).
Highly recommended.

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

Revisiting an old classic. With all the hubbub and hassle surrounding imperial / barrel aged / special release stouts these days (don't get me wrong, also delicious), it's nice to know that one of the best is always there waiting on the shelf for you.

Pours nearly black, very slight brownish ruby hints when held up to a light, supple beige foam, nice life. Deep aromas of charred wood, leather, fig, and a boatload of roasted malt flavors. Not overly on the chocolate or coffee, which I tend to think let's the more exotic flavors shine. First gulp is full and intense, very warming. Loads of ripeness, rich, earthy, soaked currant raisin fig fruity, nice mellow roastyness and the slightest bitter edge cutting through. Images of smoke, leather, tobacco. Milky and voluptuous the palate with a slight chewyness and surrounded by a definite heft and warmth. Perfect for ushering in the colder weather on a rainy fall night, while I wait for my landlord to turn on the damn heat. Only gets better with age for at least 2 years that I can vouch for. Don't overlook this beast due to it's lack of non-availability.

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Photo of wahhmaster
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 1 pt. 6 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams Boston Lager glass. 2008 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a very dark black color. Has a tight, brown head that dissipates quickly down to a frothy ring on top of the beer. Leaves behind some creamy, oily lacing.

Smell: Smells VERY strongly of coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts, and a hint of alcohol. Chocolate and coffee seem to dominate.

Taste: Not as aggressively bitter as I was expecting. I suppose the two years that have been put on it have mellowed it out. Still, it is aggressively malty with chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruits, and a bit of nuttiness. The alcohol is also very present here and gives this baby a bit of a kick going down as well as a nice warmth.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, chewy, perfect.

Drinkability: An excellent stout. I'd have to try a more recent vintage to really see the effect of aging on this beer but I am glad to have tried this aged one. This is certainly something I'd recommend for aging but the temptation to drink it would certainly be great!

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

Poured from 22oz bomber into my Unibroue tulip.

A: Pitch black, rushing 1 1/2" head of tan bubbles, with the carbonation coming after I finished the pour. Settles to a small cap/ring that is made up of tiny bubbles. Leaves a little oily lace on the glass. Nice.

S: Burnt/heavily roasted coffee beans, dark brown sugar, raisins, some solid chocolate notes. I get a very, very faint hop, like a slightly herbal/piney hop, but it is extremely faint. Not too shabby.

T: Very nice dark fruit and slight coffee on the start, plum/raisin and a nice cup of joe. Chocolate comes in, and an almost smokey note takes over towards the finish. Nice.

M: Nice body, decent carbonation for the style, and almost creamy finish. Nice.

D: Not bad. This is more a sipping beer, but it's still easy to drink.

Overall, this is quite good. The only thing I would say I don't like is the smokey quality, as it gets in the way a little. Otherwise, this is a good RIS, and one I'd buy again.

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Photo of rhett7660
4.56/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured Motor oil black, very black, with a small head that retreated very fast. The head was brown in color.

S: A delicious strong smell of roasted malts with a sweet chocolate hint as the smell lingers. No real hint of alcohol given the alcohol content.

T: Almost the same as the smell. Hint of chocolate with roasted malts. It ends with some bitterness and a very small taste of alcohol mixed in. This beer got better as I moved my way through the bottle.

M: Very light bodied with little carbonation.

D: Very very drinkable, it is very tasty and given that it is 10.50% ABV you really do not taste the alcohol which I like a lot. This is one of my favorite beers. Very easy to drink. I have no problems recommending this beer. Love the taste!

Serving type: bottle

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

Poured into a snifter. '08 vintage courtesy of BA infi and shared with his brother BA brun.

A: Poured Motor oi black with a small head that retreated very fast. Very little lacing on the snifter. Looked watery upon the pour.

S: A delicious strong smell of roasted malts with a sweet chocolate back hint. Made my stomach grumble from being hungry. No smell of alcohol here as well.

T: Almost the same as the smell. Chocolate with bready roasted malts on the back taste. It ends with some bitterness and a small taste of alcohol mixed in.

M: Very light bodied with little carbonation. A little bit too light bodied for my own liking in a RIS but that should detract nothing much from it.

D: Very drinkable, its tastiness was hid the 10.50% ABV well and I could drink this very fast. Would recommend it to others.

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Photo of infi
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 22 oz. bomber, shared with BAs brun and NYManc.

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Completely dark black and opaque with a sizable half-inch tan head of thin bubbles, which left copious amounts of lacing on the glass. Smell was thoroughly full of roasted malt and grain, with some glimmers of chocolate. Most of the coffee seemed to have gone along with the time, as there were no traces of it at all. Considering a two-year old bottle, there were still some scents of alcohol towards the end.

Taste is incredibly smooth and delectable. Serious roasted malt sweetness throughout on the palate with an ending of bittersweet dark chocolate and a minute flavor of musky fruitiness. As the stout warms, the sweet characteristics open up particularly well, as well as the high ABV warmth.

A bit light on the liquid body compared to other RIS I've had, but still a beauty. Very low the carbonation feel with a relatively moderate viscosity feel on the tongue. A definite plus is how fast I was drinking this beerĀ - nothing was holding me back. Quite delicious. I've held onto this beer for a long time and very glad to have opened it to finally experience one of my most anticipated beers.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,373 ratings.
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