Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Imperial Russian StoutImperial Russian Stout
8,418 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
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Ratings: 8,418 |  Reviews: 2,771
Photo of zoso1967
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

For all intents and purposes, this stout pours completely black and is opaque. It is capped off with a beautiful mocha head that has superb retention and slightly above average lace. If the artwork and marketing on the bottle were not enough, after pouring one of these bad boys you can tell it means business.

The aroma is wonderfully rich and complex with a solid molasses like sweet malt backbone that holds up a cornucopia of roasty and toasty treasures. Coffee, charred wood, smoke, burnt sugar, leather and a touch of anise all come out of this beer. One can also detect a bit of a sharpness that is probably a cross between roasty astringency, alcohol and some piney hops. This is one of those beers that every time you smell it you get something different.

The flavor is much like the aroma and possesses the same chameleon like tendency to change as you make your way through the glass. Coffee, smoke, leather, rich dark chocolate, soot and a punch of hoppy bitterness all make their way to my taste buds.

I would say that the body on this is not quite full, but it does have a very smooth and coating sort of texture. The finish can be a bit harsh as this beer warms, but given the crazy amount of roasted and bitter stuff going on in this brew, it is not bad at all.

This is a pretty darn drinkable American RIS, and it is no wonder it is so popular. While it is a big beer and I often end up drinking it quite slowly, I feel like I need to bump up the drinkability a bit because this is a beer that I seem to end up picking up from time to time because I know it will be an enjoyable drinking experience. This is a classic beer and highly recommended.

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Photo of jds1469
4.56/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Not a perfect beer, but pretty good.

Purchased a 2009 bottle today and popped it open once I got home. The appearance was some of the best looking beer I have seen recently. HEAVY black color with a dark brown head. The beer sticks to the glass as you drink it very well and creates a nice lacing down the glass.

The taste is very bold, but not overpowering, sweet but not overly sweet. The flavors mesh together to well it is hard to pick out individual ingredients.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Has the feel of heavy cream almost but go away pretty quickly after a few seconds.

Of course the drinkability is a 4.9, but this is not an option so it deserves a 5.0.

Very easy beer to find where I live and I will pick up several 2010 bottles to enjoy next year.

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Photo of welldigger888
4.46/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from growler into a chimay chalice, opaque black elixer with a nice creamy tan head that laces down glass well.
Vintage jan. 2009 on the keg, mmmhah! WOW !!!
Very subdued aromas of an exceptional grain bill with chocolate and coffee coming through.
Intense creamy coffee chocolate grainy notes. WOW again!!!
This brew is outstanding with a soft carbonation and creamy roasty mouthfeel! WOW!!!
I could drink this all night, well until I fell down at least! the abv is a bit intimadating.

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Photo of SAxDRC5
4.58/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I drank half of the 22oz bottle cold and the other half at room temperature. I will rate it on the room temperature version.

A: Dark black with a creamy tan head that slides down the glass and leaves a beautiful lacing

S: Dark chocolate and coffee. a bit of alcohol scent.

A: bittersweet chocolate, coffee isn't as strong a flavor as it is on the nose. Dark fruits, raisings and plums maybe. A bit of earthy oak flavor. Very good balance but not perfec, a bit too sweet and not enough hops to get a 5 from me.

M: heavy, creamy, perfect carbonation slight alcohol warmth on the finish. honestly could not be any more perfect.

D: Quite good. 10.5%abv does not try to hide itself though. Pretty strong presence of alcohol, and a really heavy beer.

I could not believe that I hadn't rated this yet, as it's one of the best RIS that I have had. I will definitely buy this again and again.

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Photo of PhageLab
4.43/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a chalice.

A - Dark and soulless. Like an ominous shadow or a dying star. Nice fluff at the top that stuck around for the duration. Thick coating of lace.

S - Grapes, plum, wood chips, cedar, chocolate, and perhaps a tinge of roasted malt. Very complicated aroma, you could spend as much time smelling this one as you could drinking it.

T - Fruity and smoky. Sweet malty body. Dry slightly bitter finish. Absolutely delicious.

M - Full bodied, nice and thick, yet smooth.

D - Great RIS, great brew period. Sip and sip well, because this one will sneak up on you.

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Photo of trecker
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Stone IRS tulip.

Looked good. Dark black. Call me a rookie, but aren't most Russian Imperial Stouts basically the same black? Small amount of whitish tan head that fades to lacing.

Smells of a sweet chocolate but not overpowering.

Has a chocolate taste possibly with a little warmth.

Drinks very well for the 10.5%. I've had quite a few RIS's lately and this is definitely one of my favorites. (P.S.- why they gotta be different and be an IRS instead of an RIS?)

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Photo of BlackBearForge
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This RIS from Stone pours deep and dark with a creamy chocolate brown head that falls pretty quickly leaving leaving moderate amounts of thick oily lacing which slides down the glass.

The aroma smells frankly delicious, with deep dark roasted malts that bring to mind dark rich chocolate, bitter and sweet with coffee overtones and whiffs of alcohol.

Let this baby warm up before drinking! With warming the mouthfeel improves and the flavors of rich dark chocolate, roasted grains and nice hoppiness really pop out. There are flavors of dark orchard fruits like ripe plums, prunes and raisins but the main flavor to me is the bittersweet chocolate backed with roasted green coffee beans. The alcohol whiffs from the aroma are totally hidden in the flavor but for a pleasant warming on the palate.

Mouthfeel is full and creamy and silky smooth on the finish.

Drinkability, oh I could drink some more of these! An excellent RIS, a style I haven't been drinking lately but I think that's about to change for the rest of the season!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,418 ratings