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

Reviewing from my notes from midsummer.

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a snifter.

A: Pours a jet black with a beige head that retains throughout.
S: Powerful roasted coffee beans and bittersweet Belgian dark chocolate are strongly present.
T: Roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a hint of coffee are present until the finish, where only the bitterness of the chocolate lingers.
M: Well carbonated yet quite heavy on the body.
D: A pretty good Imperial Stout, and I'm surprised the bitterness doesn't come from the hops knowing Stone beers, but I know this beer is heavily hopped and the bitterness from the dark chocolate still overshadows the hops here.

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Photo of aval89
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Stone IRS snifter.

A: pours a jet black, absolutely pitch black! Has a chips ahoy colored head. Both tiny & big bubbles are present in the head.

S: dark fruits upfront, black licorice, soy sauce!??, mild coffee beans, dark chocolate & alcoholic fumes smother the nose.

T: again dark fruits upfront, heavy roasty malts, dark coffee notes come in. Dark chocolate. Finishes with alcoholic fumes in the mouth & dark chocolate/coffee roast bitterness. Finishing tastes linger... Pretty dry finish.. Slight burning down the chest from alcohol.

MF: thick, rich, yet creamy & smooth. Carbonation is spot on for this brew.

D: for the abv it drinks pretty nice. Definitely a slow sipper though.

Overall pretty good brew.. Just found the boozieness to be a bit high..

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.98/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bomber into snifter.

Pours a thick, intimidating, dark, and handsome black looking color. Some hints of dark mohogany and deep rosewood in the edges and legs. Nice dark tan head... Retention and lacing don't blow my mind.

Smell is odd in a sense... There appears to be a hint of soy sauce... Cocoa... Dark fruits? Hmmm. Out of those, only bitter cocoa appears in the flavor profile. There is also very little sweetness-- more of a dry, roasted barley and malt bite. Not bad, but not mind-blowing to me. The finish is sweeter than the profile... Very little booziness... No real flaws aside from the slight soy sauce hint.

Body is respectfully full, but a great creamy feel is present from the carbonation level. The beer drinks pretty easily, with a good enough balance and flavor to hide the alcohol.

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

A - As black a beer as I've seen, no light peaks through anywhere. Huge light tan pillowy head with large air pockets. This hangs around for several minutes and leaves behind a beautiful lacing.

S - Huge dark roast malts, cacao beans, dark chocolate. Hints of espresso and licorice come through. A somewhat intense sweetness lingers, and no alcohol can be traced.

T - Pretty much along the lines of the smell, this malt bomb offers a robust combination of dark chocolate, espresso, cacao beans, and a touch of licorice. The sweetness comes in a fruit-like form, cherries and raisins come to mind. The finish is of sweet milk chocolate and chocolate fudge. I don't get any of the bitterness that comes with some imperial stouts... And again, little to no alcohol presence. This one definitely lived up to my expectations.

M - Smooth and creamy, big bodied but not as big and chewy as I anticipated (perfectly fine by me). I didn't notice much carbonation (again, fine by me).

D - Well, for being a strong RIS, it doesn't get too much better here. Definitely not one to drink all night, but I think I could easily handle a bomber to myself. Split this one tonight, and had a decent buzz going after finishing my portion (which didn't take too long...). To those who haven't tried this one: Buy It! It's definitely worth the somewhat small price tag.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 10/04/10 notes. Had on tap at Churchkey for their Stone Total Tap Takeover event. 2004 vintage.

a - Pours a dark black color with one to two inches of off white head and light carbonation evident. Looks great.

s - Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and coffee. Light dark fruits as well. No alcohol in the smell, very balanced and smells great.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, and hint of alcohol.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Very easy to drink for 10.5% ABV.

d - This is a great RIS. I've had it several times and a few different vintages and have always enjoyed it. This one being a 2004 vintage, I didn't think the extra time did too much to improve the beer, but regardless, it is one of the best easily available RIS's out there. Interested to open my 08 bottle soon to compare to, will definitely have again.

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Photo of HURTemHIZZY
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage on tap at the churchkey. I want a brewery tour to come to town every week!

Pours a near black color, that only shows some reddish tints around the edge of the glass when held up to the light. Nice two finger deep tan head that doesn't fully dissipate at all. Leaves ok lacing on the glass. Smell is amazing. The chocolate is faded in comparison to the fresh version, with some deeper layers of dark fruit taking its place. Still some bittersweet and milk chocolate, though, along with some coffee. Such a complex aroma.

Taste is along the same lines as the aroma. Starts with a bit of coffee, then you get punched in the face with dark fruits, and it finishes with a bit of bittersweet chocolate. Hops are not noticeable whatsoever, as they shouldn't be in a 2004 vintage. Seems to have thinned out a bit in comparison to the fresh version. Great brew.

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Photo of gopens44
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours thicker than most RIS' I've had. Slow pour lead to a moderate mocha colored head - about 1" worth of head. Dark as you'd imagine. Opaque and black with dark brown hues refracting the light that was lucky enough to slide by the side of the glass.

S - Coffee, toffee and a touch of alcohol in the smell. Nice to draw a nose full of this right before taking a sip. There may have been more chocolate in the smell than what I recognized, but it was well buried in the other smells

T - Great! There's the coffee again, but this is where I could detect a chocolaty presence as well. Alcohol was hid a bit better in teh taste than in the nose, but it was still there.

M - Silky smooth with very little carbonation. A touch of bitterness left on an otherwise dry tongue.

D - Very much yes. Need to work this into my already crowded RIS lineup.

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Photo of neorunner
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 spring release into a tulip glass.

A- Velvety dark black with a single finger of brown head. Held up to the light it is completely opaque.

S- Strong alcohol and bitter chocolate, some underlying notes of toffee and treacle.

T- A true imperial stout, this beer has a punch and the flavor to go with it. Chocolate, espresso, rich dark fruits and malts. Slightly hot but that blends well with the sweetness.

M- Full bodied and creamy with a smooth finish, not as dry as one would expect for a 10.5% beer.

D- This is a great RIS and should cellar very well. Definitely a good beer for a cold winters evening.

Blind Bomber #7 thanks to Nate (nlmartin) in Round #2 of the Blind Beer BIF.

2005 Vintage

22 oz bottle poured into a Ommegang glass. Dark black in color and head is an 1/8th inch of dark brown that disappears into a small oil slick. Aroma is bitter chocolate, cocoa, and a touch of fusel alcohol. Flavor is very much a stout but I'm struggling to pull out too many unique flavors. Chocolate and black bittering malt abound and not much hop flavor from what I can tell. Mouthfeel is dry and chewy, I'm left with cottonmouth after almost each sip. The beer is mellow and very tasty, something I could and am sipping on all night. Fits very nicely on this rainy evening.

Going over my previous review, this beer has dried out nicely and still holds a good heat. Most of the dark fruit is gone, as are any trace of hops. It cellars great and I need to start putting more away.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a BN Army pint glass. Limited Spring 2010 Release.

A- BLACK Opaque! Tan dissipating head with some decent lacing.

S- coffee then chocolate then alcohol.

T- Not too sweet, but coffee and chocolate notes are present. Alcohol is hidden in the taste, taste improves as it warms.

M- medium bodied stout, not too syrupy. Mouth in coated with flavor on each sip.

D- This is a sipper. 10.5% is no joke. Problem is this beer goes down easy. I do not enjoy really sweet boozy stouts so this beer is awesome! Classic RIS!

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Photo of Kinsman
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Spring 2010 release from bottle

Pours an absolute pitch black with a thin dark tan head.

Aroma is deep and dark with roasted barley and burnt coffee. Also notable are notes of dark chocolate.

Flavor is strong with the burnt/roasted flavors and balanced by a light sweetness. Hops are lingering a bit but hardly noticeable.

Mouthfeel is heavy and hot. At about 6 months, the alcohol hasn't really toned down too much.

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Photo of Brez07
4.47/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottled poured into a snifter. 2010 version

A: Dark brown pour, but sits pitch black in the glass. Leaves a 1/2 finger mocha head, which quickly recedes to a thin layer. However, this lasts for most of the glass

S: Big roasted malts in the nose. Some cocoa and a touch of smoke. Sweet bread or graham cracker. Slight alcohol tinge once it warms

T: Lots of roasted malt and dark fruit with a hint of spice, cocoa nibs and bittersweet chocolate. Delicious

M: Full bodied. Low carbonation, good for the style. Smooth, roasted finish

D: Deserving of the praise as one of the best Russian imperial stouts of there. Plus, it's hard to beat the price. Storing a few to see how it ages

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

2010 release..

Pours a super dark black with brown edges.. about a two finger fluffy tan head which dissipated quickly. Very minimal lacing, if at all. Smells of roasted malts, toffee, dark chocolate and coffee. Taste is very full, very complex.. I'm getting dark chocolate, cherry, toasted malts with a touch of bitterness. The sweetness of the malts shine overall. Very heavy, yet very drinkable. ABV is well hidden. Thoroughly enjoyable in all aspects!

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Photo of flannelman808
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: damn near midnight black... but just a little light sneaks in at the corner... tan head. Decent amount of foam but it is not long lasting... very nice lacing however.

S: Dark chocolate and french roast. Heath bar? there is a toffee like sweetness there too.

T: Deep rich dark chocolate with espresso bean bitterness to boot. This has a very deep rich character and is extremely well done. warming alcohol is there but very approachable. kick ass beer.

M: rich... milky, sticky

D: medium

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Photo of exodus1369
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark black with a dark foamy head.

S: Malt aroma, chocolate, roasted malts, toffee, caramel malts, fruit.

T: Malty, sweet, roasted, is amazing a taste?

Just over all a wonderful beer, amazing blend, dark and very rich and full flavored. Would be in my opinion on the desert end.

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Photo of nas5755
4.43/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2010 bottle

A: Opaque, a light dark sugar color head with nice retention and amazing lacing.

N: Roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, a faint whiff of hazelnuts and anise

T: Roasted malts that aren't burnt(something that is hard to find in good coffee and good RIS), chocolate, some dark fruits that are lightly mixed in, anise on the palate, a faint bitterness, some alcohol burn but very faint

M: carbonation is fantastic, love the coating of this beer, very smooth. The mouth-feel of this beer is an amazing experience.

D: A very complex beer that straddles the line bewteen being quaffable at 10.5 abv and is equally at its own being contemplated sip by sip over an hour or two

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Photo of Duttonic
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes 09/21/10. 22oz bomber to pint glass.

A- So dark black you can't see any light through it, two fingers dark brown head.

S- Anise, currants, roasted coffee, faint hops.

T/M- Alcohol, chocolate, coffee, creamy, a little bitter, similar to mild bakers chocolate, a bit of hop.

D- Solid. Delicious, has a phenomenal aroma, but high alcohol content is the only drawback. Depending on how you look at it. This is up there in the best IRS I've ever had.

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Photo of CascadeConan
4.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage poured into a snifter

A - Midnight black, awesome mocha-colored, everlasting head

S - Chocolate, Coffee, dark fruits (raisins, plums), bit of smoke, roasted malts and a little booze, no hops really.

T - In line with the smell along with a bit of alcohol bite

M - Nice full mouthfeel, not viscous at all, great level of carbonation

D - Best RIS available for it's drinkability, complexity and affordability.

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Photo of GabrielM
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

An absolute favorite of mine and I'd guess the same for all stout lovers. Outstanding taste and quality for and equally outstanding price.

A - pitch black, nice 1" head, great retention.

S - roasted malt, chocolate, espresso, wood, raisin bread, a touch of alcohol.

T - same as smell, but with a slight hoppy dryness and the perfect level of alcohol warmth.

M - carbonation is terrific, the flavors are pronounced and it goes down smooth.

D - a beautiful beer that drinks quite easily. I can't wait to crack one open on cold winter nights, just as I can't wait to experience a '10 next summer after its had some time to mellow out.

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Photo of BA23598
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What can I say that everyone else hasn't said already... Love this beer... Had the 07, 08, 09, and 10... Favorite is still the 10.. But loved them all..09 was probably the ballsy-est in alcohol flavor.. 07 was what sparked the loveaffair with this beer.

A. Black - read what everyone else said.
S. Again keep reading...
T. Don't get me started...I just advice you to crack the chilled bottle and wait 15 minutes to air out..then take a big gulp... If it bites you.. Wait another 5 minutes... Then sip and have the "O" face...
M. Silky smooth
D. I take a glass(or 4) every night and wake up the next day waiting for a chane to taste it again.

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Photo of jsprain1
4.8/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A- Pours a solid black color, maybe slightly brown when held to light, with a tan head, thick and creamy looking that lasts fairly long and leaves splendid lacing.
S- Roasted coffee, slight alcohol aroma, slightly fruity (kind of a distant blackberry aroma in there, but that could just be me) and a very slight, but perfectly place charcoal aroma.
T- It has the expected coffee/ roasted malt flavor. Aggressive, followed by a a perfect balancing hoppiness. The finish has an alcohol warmth to it. There is a certain vanilla flavor in there as well.
M- Thick. Not too thick, but perfectly thick. Carbonation is spot on. This is like coffee meets silk for my tongue.
D- Not much that one can do to improve this guy. this is pretty much everything an imperial stout should be. The alcohol definitely slows you down and makes it a slow drinker. But this is one that I will come back to frequently.

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

A-black with a beautiful tan head, be careful pouring or else you'll have a whole lotta head to deal with

S-thick roasted coffee, beautiful smell tho i wish it were just a tad stronger

T-ohh wow, just amazing. tastes just like it smells. there actually is a bit of an alcohol burn to it and bit of bitterness as well, however i wouldn't say those two factors take away from this beautiful taste.

M-light carbonation, very smooth and creamy. thick bodied as well.

D-quite the manly beer in such a large bottle. ABV is high and it hits. This beer is like a great steak dinner that you just want to keep going, and luckily due to the bomber, it keeps going until you're full.

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Photo of sogrady
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not quite sure this would be fit for Czars, but it's an excellent, warm stout. Strong alcohol present, not surprising given the ABV. The coffee and chocolate flavors dominate, but spice notes lurk consistently.

Appearance is the typical black/brown, with light apparently unable to escape its density. Carbonation not overwhelming, just appropriate.

Overall, a nice RIS. Not my favorite, but excellent.

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Photo of ZorPrime
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

In 2010, I was like a kid at Christmas. With the help of a private import, I bought 9 bottles of this beer. Here is my opinion, I will revisit in the future.

Very dark with a very nice brown head. The aroma is anise, chocolate and coffee. One of the most amazing smell so far. To me this is exceptional smell. On the taste, it is near perfect. Again, coffee, chocolate. Nice bitterness too at the end.Wow, the taste just stays in the mouth and doesn't want to go away. Awesome. The alcohol is high making this a good sipper but can only drink one per evening then I'm out of service! :) A very nice beer again from Stone Brewing.

Still have 7 bottles of this beer.

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Photo of ruckus232
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 Ounce brown bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Dark brown syrupy in appearance with a brown head.

Smell: Slightly sweet (maybe a little fruit) on top of a really nice toasted malt smell. Really nice scent that you can smell as soon as it is poured from the bottle.

Taste: Great toasted malty flavor with a little roasted bitterness that is complimented by a sweetness from the malt and something else (maybe chocolate).

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Photo of SteveO1231
5/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 Release. A going away gift from goodbyeohio. Thanks Sloppy Jimbo!

Pours an impenetrable black with a dark foamy head. As is settles it begins to look like a splash of heavy cream in a cup of fresh coffee, just before the stir.

Great malt aroma, bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, toffee, some prune/grape aroma from dark caramel malts and three years of aging.

Full bodied, creamy fluffy texture, leaves a slick syrupy texture on the palate. The abv numbs the palate a bit and warms the belly. Mmmm.

Lots of malty sweetness, prune super dark chocolate and molasses. Huge roasted character really balances the sweetness well. Bitter espresso aftertaste. Really very good, very strong, almost a dessert.

Aged this beer is much more approachable and enjoyable than it is super fresh, the hops mellow a bit giving way to lots of chocolate and roasted flavors.

Perfect RIS!


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