Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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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
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Ratings: 8,411 |  Reviews: 2,770
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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Photo of Chizoad
4.43/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

An absolute knockout. Spring 2010 release, $6, and one of the best beers around for the price.

Killer appearance in the glass. Brown ink supporting a tan head with evident carbonation. Only taking 1/2 a point off because of the color of the head being too gray for my liking.

Coffee, malt aromas, but a little quiet compared to what happens when you taste it.

Big malty goodness, with coffee bitterness backing up some sugar and licorice. Not huge complexity but great flavor. Compares favorably with Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy and The Abyss from Deschutes. Perhaps in a few years the flavors would deepen.

Really loved the carbonation of this beer. Of course it's heavy, but the bright carbonation really makes it far more drinkable than the usual. It doesn't foam out into a glob on your tongue, and actually stays somewhat crisp.

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

A - A nice, inky black with an amber-coffee head (very slight head).
S - Chocolate and coffee dominate the nose. This is followed by cherries and maybe some spice. However, the chocolate/coffee is the most dominant thing.
T - Mainly, I get espresso and chocolate; and a bit of milky creaminess as it warms. Perhaps a little more spice as it warms - licorice for sure.
M - Heavy body and low carbonation, and even a bit of a creamy mouthfeel.
D - All around, this is a pleasant imperial stout; very nice. Of course, it would be difficult to drink too much of this with its high ABV.

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Photo of BMan1113VR
4.01/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Have had this many times in bottles of different vintages, casks, and taps of different vintages. This rating is from a bottle of 2007 (from notes). Pours with a finger width, creamy brown head with a black body. Nice coffee aroma with a dash of nail polish/fusel alcohol. Taste is coffee and a lot of barely. Extremely nice creamy body, bitter hop finish. This is a great roasty, and slightly hoppy stout, with a few dark fruit esters. Alcohol is high, but I feel that it is over rated...Solid beer but not one of the best imperial stouts. I am aging a bottle for 4 years to see if it improves...I have high hopes...Right now the beer has a bit too much bitterness from the roast.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.53/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottles courtesy of thetomG and akbeerfiend. Thanks guys!

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: A black pour creates a two finger, thicker looking tan head with good retention. Jet black body with zero carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a good wisp with a bit of lacing clinging to the sides .A ring remains and leaves some dots of lacing after every sip. Good looking brew.

SMELL: Roasted malt, caramel malt, and some pure chocolate. Touches of licorice and dark malts as well. Medium strength.

TAST: Big roasted flavor, caramel and dark malts, with hints of black licorice and dark chocolate. Aftertaste is bold but quick, with lots of roasted flavors in there, some dark malts and coffee notes. Bitter-sweet finish and the alcohol is well hidden. Decently bold enough flavors. Good, but not great.

PALATE: Medium-full body with medium carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, goes down fine with a bit of a prickle after the swallow. Finishes rather dry on the palate.

OVERALL: I can definitely see why this is considered a classic, but don't think it measures up to some of the stouts that have followed it. A good aroma and taste profile, but certainly doesn't stand out next to some of the others on the market. A brew I'll have again if I find it, but I don't need to seek it out again. Interested to see how the other bottle ages though. Will update this review in a couple years. Thanks for this one boys.

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Photo of ZOXXO
4.03/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into Kapok Tree Inn tulip glass.

A - Very dark, black even. Thick three fingered caramel head with fine lacing.

S - Dark fruit dominates with hints of chocolate.

T - The reverse comes through in the taste. A bitter roast and chocolate up front with a dark fruit flavor close behind. A hint of alcohol heat in the aftertaste.

M - Creamy and smooth

D - Very drinkable for a Russian Imperial Stout but the ABV is apparent.

This is a review of the 2009 vintage of which more I will purchase to try along side it's present and future versions.

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

22 ounce poured into St Bernardus goblet.

Opaque black with small brown head leaving no lacing around glass.

Lots of dark chocolate and espresso flavors. Slight touch thin in the mouth... still, hides alcohol very well.

Great stout and for the price, even sweeter.

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

I had never seen this one in my area, but found a random lonely bottle at Carl's in Kittery, Maine to take home. I'll put it right out there: this beer is worth the hype. I haven't had many west coast stouts. Actually only Old Rasputin comes to mind, and that's a damn good stout, but this gargoyle kicks its ass, handily.

Fantastic nose, good solid finger and a half of foamy beige head with sturdy lacing. First sip was silky smooth with chocolate, burnt coffee, and lots of other tasty morsels I won't bother mentioning because you should stop reading this and simply seek out your own bottle.

Being from NH I am an unflinching Kate the Great fan, but this bad boy is her equal (IMO) in the land of Ruskie Impy Stouties.

Oh, and to complete the mosaic (although I guess we never really mentioned painting), someone in the neighborhood has a little bonfire going, and the subtle smoke aroma is wafting through my window as I drink this masterpiece - it's called perfection, ya fool.

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