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Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
8,389 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,389 |  Reviews: 2,762
Photo of chalsk
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color with thin off-white head and some life. Has an aroma of chocolate, caramel, and grapefruit, with hints of coffee. Sweet up front. Then a malty, velvety finish with some nice bitters on the back end. The carbonation is muted a bit, keeps it from being too syrupy though. Very good.

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Photo of srvisgod88
4.09/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: The beer is just beautiful. A nice dark tone that doesn't look sloppy. You can see that it is a nice thick, heavy beer.

Smell: A little lighter than a hoped but in no way unpleasant. I found myself really needing to swirl it and sniff it several times to really pick out distinct aromas. Probably because of the higher alcohol content. Even though I had trouble picking out anything distinct, what I did smell was very pleasing.

Taste: Very good taste. The initial attack was a little sloppy but the mid palate was a beautiful caramel that finished with a mocha-coffee that was noticeable without being overwhelming and off-putting. The heat in the finish is also there but is surprisingly well hidden until you reach the bottom of the glass.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy. Like any good Imperial Stout should be.

Drinkability: This is not something I can have more than two or three glasses of but if I were to drink this with food I would enjoy it very much. For what it is it has all the drinkability you could realistically ask for.

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

A: poured a dark brown like oil with a brown finger worth of head that left good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: nice roasted malt aromas with chocolate and slight coffee accents that definitely has booziness in the mixture. I also got some creamy notes followed by some oaky vanilla.

T: oak vanilla and slight greet the palate first with chocolate, and a mild hop bite as well. The beer also has some nice roasted malts that really adds balance to the overall flavor.

M: medium body with a good amount of carbonation that is sweet and silky with a mild bitter finish.

D: pretty damn good RIS from stone considering they stick to the hop bombs. This is definitely a treat after dinner. The beer drank good and could have another bomber.

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

A- Deep oil black, pours thick, little to no head. The foam that does form is chocolate brown, looks taste.

S- heavy malts, chocolate, bit of vanilla and bourbon.

T- Taste similar to the smell but backwards. A sweet bourbon, flooding of gritty chocolate and earth-tones, there is a struggle of hop bitterness that tries to build, but is quickly taken over malts. aftertaste is mostly roasted malts. I can't tell whether there is to little or way to much going on this beer.

M- Thick, chewiness when it hits the tongue and spreads over it quickly. long last flavor in the mouth. slight burning taste from the alcohol

D- Despite its high alcohol content, its not bad for a imperial stout.

Overall i was a bit disappointed with this imperial stout, I was expecting a bit more from stone. Its not a bad Imperial stout, i just wanted more flavor.

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Photo of perrymarcus
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured from bomber into st bernardus chalice.

A: pours very dark brown, almost black; medium head, some lacing.

S: strong roasted malt and chocolate come to mind right of the bat, but i do detect some coffee in there. molasses maybe?

T: taste follows the smell closely. complex and well balanced.

M: as with most imperial stouts it's definitely full bodied. average carbonation.

D: again, following the repuation of an imperial stout, this is a sipper. wouldn't stray beyond the one bomber.

overall, very good but IMHO not world class. maybe my expectations were too high going in; i was expecting to LOVE it... def not on the level of a kbs or even bourbon county, in my opinion. guess i'm a sucker for the bourbon. :)

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Photo of TK5150
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After having the past couple vintages of this beer, I am finally deciding to rate it...2010 bottle.

A- Pours very dark brown/black with a large light brown head. Nice lacing. Looks like a pretty typical imperial stout.

S- Nice chocolate aromas with additional roasted malt, and a hint of coffee.

T- Roasted malts. A hint of coffee is there, just as in the nose. Caramel makes an appearance at the finish... a little licorice as well, hints of chocolate. Pretty tasty beer...much more balanced than the Southern Tier Mokah I had before this.

M- Fuller bodied, but more carbonation than I like to see in my Imperial Stouts. Still, this coats the mouth nicely.

D- The drinkability is good here, even with the high alcohol. One bomber would be my limit though.

Overall, it is hard to come by a widely distributed Imperial Stout that is worth picking up. A nice beer to look forward to each year. I liked 2008 a lot, hated 2009 ( I dislike a lot of 2009 versions of beers for some reason), but enjoy this years. I will probably pick up a couple of these for aging.

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Photo of Echosolace
3.71/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - I was impressed when I held this up to my monitor's light and not a single ray was shining through. Whoa. Reminds me of the World Wide Stout.

S - It's hard to catch a smell of it. It doesn't seem to throw it's sent around so much. I'd probably call it chalky actually. Maybe a little bit like dry soil. Earthy tones is an understatement.

T - A lot of toasted something. Pretty thick, and the malts are to blame. But the malt taste isn't so strong. This thing is a kicker though, plenty of alcohol. Great if you're alone... *sniff* *sniff*

M - It seems to bubble up in itself. I'm not sure whether it's because of the sugar content, but it's not so effervescent, because it just foams up and stays foamy. It's pleasant actually. I like it about this beer.

D - It'll put a bit of hair on your chest. It's definitely for a person who can enjoy a ton of character in a beer. This isn't for the normal fragile American tongue. This is the real stuff. That said, it's a bit much for a daily brew. Personally, I enjoy something a bit lighter day to day, but it's a refreshing change I'm sure a stout fan would love.

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

Pours black with lots of light brown head. No lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, coffee, brown sugar and bitter chocolate. The roasted malts and coffee seem somewhat watered down. The aroma is a bit nutty as well.

Tastes upfront of slightly bitter roasted malts with a nutty, earthy quality. Finish is bitter coffee, unsweetened chocolate, light brown sugar. Lingering bitter and roasted coffee flavor.

Full bodied with low carbonation, but no chewiness. Slightly syrupy.

A solid example of the style, but nothing great and kind of boring.


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Photo of snpub540
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours an almost black hue, with some brown around the edges and at the bottom. Light brown lacing leaves some delicate sheeting the whole way down.

Aroma smells very roasty and inviting. Also some raisin, carmelized sugar, and chocolate notes going on.

Taste is very complex and delicious. Bitter coffee and chocolate upfront. In the middle I am getting the dark fruit taste and a hint of licorice. Also a nice amount of hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is absolutely perfect. Silky texture that just dances on the palate. Drinkability is good for a big beer, but definately not a chugger. A great beer and one.I have enjoyed for a long time just never reviewed.

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

A - Exceptionally dark. Practically what you see pouring out of your car engine each year. Not a lot of head, but what is there is creamy. A bit of lacing as well.

S - Lots and lots of bitter dark chocolate and roasted malts. The roasted smell is quite dominant.

T - Much like the smell, there is strong hop bitterness to it which works so well with the bitter chocolate and roasted malt.

M - A full bodied beer that sticks with you. It's very creamy and goes very well with desserts.

D - I wouldn't recommend it on a hot day after work or from mowing the lawn. As a beer you relax and sip on, it's a fine wine in beer form.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.72/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of my top RIS's for sure. I had this fresh twice last year but for this review I am reviewing a 2008 bomber, so this is aged 2 years.

Pours black with a modest 1-finger tan head even on an aggressive pour. Carbonation has probably been knocked down a bit due to the age. Turns to a ring and leaves some lacing.

Lots of malt, coffee and dark fruits from the nose. Alluring to say the least.

Taste is of the pure RIS variety I have come to know and love. I can taste the decadence! Lots of flavors - roasted malt, black coffee, licorice, flashes of plum and raisin. Booze is a highlight here rather than a bother, well-hidden for 10.8%. Definitely less hot than when fresh. A surprising amount of sweetness for a stout so evil and robust. The dark fruit comes out more as it warms, along with dark chocolate and vanilla. Amazing.

Mouthfeel is excellent, thickness, carbonation, and alcohol taste are at a great level. Balance is awesome.

Very drinkable and enjoyable, bomber is not a problem. Pretty good price for the quality too. Stouts don't need to be barrel-aged to be great, this is undeniable proof.

**4/13/11 - more notes**

Thoroughly enjoying a 2008 (3 years old) 12 oz right now. This beer is only improving with age...basically a dark chocolate/dark fruit/licorice bomb of awesomeness with really no alcohol bite. Drinking super great right now, happy to have alot of this vintage especially.

**4/27/13 - more notes**

2008 bomber, 5+ years old! This beer rules, period. Awesome vintage. Carbonation is definitely sinking but such a good, deep beer, lots of character. Lots of dark fruit chocolatey-ness. Easy drinking, unique. Had this next to fresh 2013+2013 Espresso versions - all great but this blew em away.

**3/17/15 -- even more notes**

Happy St. Patrick's Day, still going on these '08s, 7 years old now. Ridiculously easy-drinking and subdued (in a good way). Kinda just like viscous chocolate cigar box licorice substance with really no alcohol. Still some light carbonation.

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

2010 on tap at Belmont Station in Portland, OR poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter.

appearance - rich black, tan head, excellent lacing, some retention

smell - coffee, anise, malt, chocolate

taste - strong anise up front, black currants, coffee is dominant throughout the profile

mouthfeel - heavy mouthfeel, thick and dry, lingering, warm

drinkability - a very complex but huge beer, difficult to get through a snifter in any amount of time

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Photo of NewGeneric
4.03/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dansteino for the great selection.
Poured into my Guinness mug.
2010 release.

A: Pours pitch black with some dark brown hues around the top edges. About 2 fingers of mocha foam fade pretty quickly, leaving thin wisps of lacing around the sides.

S: Big coffee aromas up front with hints of chocolate floating throughout. Maybe a little bit of dark fruit, but other than that, not much else.

T: Again, big coffee and chocolate presences abound. Dark fruits as well. Yeasty bread makes its way to the surface, too.

M: Pretty smooth. Not much hotness from the alcohol either. A little bit dryer than I would like though. Still very good.

D: I'm almost invariably left wanting more.

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

'10 bomber poured in to my cigar city snifter.

A- pours midnight black in color. A 2 finger tan head. Splendid retention and a fair bit of lacing.

A- big roasted malts and coffee. Some booze are present and a hint of black licorice.

T- roasted malts and coffee are in charge. The malts have a touch of char to them. The licorice I got in the nose, is more prevelant here. The booze are a little hot and there is a bit of hops present in the finish. As it warms there is a fig or raisin that really comes out. The flavors really become more complex at room temperature.

M- on the fuller side of medium. Not as thick as I was expecting but in no way is it light. The carbonation is on the lower side which I prefer in stouts.

D- I enjoyed sipping on this one. I took my time with it. I drank the whole bomber solo over an hour. I am glad I did because like I said before, it really opens up as it warms. I really enjoyed it and I believe I will purchase more to put some age on them.

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

Just poured a 2009 edition since the 2010s just came in

Appearance: jet black in appearance, pours a little thick with a light caramel head, sticking to the sides

Smell: smells like a standard imperial stout, good coffee aroma and some alcohol, nothing too special

Taste: very good flavor, rich and full of coffee flavor, mild sweetness, alcohol in the after taste, good resonating flavor

Mouthfeel: extremely smooth, almost velvety, little carbonation

Drinkability: very drinkable, the flavor isn't over powering and it tastes great, the alcohol is also pretty well hidden for its content

I'd highly recommend picking one of these up, especially if over a year old.

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Photo of squaremile
3.96/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Belmont Station in Portland Oregon. I have had the 2010 in the bottle several times now, and finally got a try on tap. The appearance was deep black with a really foamed up brown head. As the glass settled they maintained some patches of bubbles. Nose was roasted malts, coffee, bakers chocolate, and a twinge of hops. Taste was more of the same with the hops and currant being more prominent than in the bottle, and in a way that was less pleasant for me. The mouthfeel was spectacular.

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Photo of Darien
4.16/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass and built up a massive dark tan head that lingered for quite a while which was highly unexpected. Coloration was black as night. Smell was ok, pretty nutty smelling with loys of coffee. Tastes of roasted nuts and malt upfront with a very taint bitterness at the end of the sip. Pretty thick mouthfeel, also nice and creamy and smooth. A nice sipper in my opinion. Not the heaviest or most massive stout out there but very nice.

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Photo of bierguru
3.66/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance i rated a 4
i did that because i found it impressive on how dark they were able to get the beer. no light whats so ever got through when held up o the light. head was thick and creamy. the color was an off white. it was fairly firm and didnt disipate.

smell - 3
nothing special just a heavy coffee smell

taste 4
had a heavy but smooth coffee taste with some hint of nuts

drink - 3.5
i say this because for me with how heavy the coffee taste i may be able to stomach one or two at a time because of how rich it is

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Photo of Dodt
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

picked this up on a whim since i they didn't have the beer i was looking for.
poured from the bottle into a snifter glass
appearance dark almost black in color with chocolate colored head .
smell dark roasted malts and a bit of coffee
taste slightly bitter with above flavor
i am really impressed with this quality brew

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

Thanks BenC for breaking out an '08-'10 vertical of this.

review of 2010:
a - dark black. light colored head.
s - smokey malts, some coffee
t - coffee and smokey. good amount of bitterness.
m - med-heavy body. thick and somewhat chewy, but carbonation keeps it from being too syrupy.

2009: smell is way sweeter than '10. dark fruit notes and vanilla. taste is sweeter as well. picking up honey and chocolate.

2008: smell i sweeter than '10, but less than '09. smokey cocoa nose. taste is super smooth, but seems to have lost some flavor over the '09. more chocolate malts.

overall - I think the best year was '09, but it may have been a bit too sweet. Somewhere between 1 and 2 years is about perfect. Actually at the end I mixed '08 and '09 together and enjoyed it quite a bit!

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

2008 through 2010 vertical courtesy of BenC, an BA, hot sauce aficionado, and generally good bloke.

A - Each year's pour is dark brown, with a small bit of brown head and not much lacing.

2008 - Tobacco, raisin, and vanilla
2009 - Booze, vanilla, and dark fruits
2010 - Coffee, roasted malts

1st impressions:
2008 - Chocolate malt balls, molasses, and toffee
2009 - Vanilla, bourbon, milk chocolate
2010 - Roasted coffee, molasses, dark chocolate, and a slightly piny, bitter finish

Overall, the 2008 stole the show for me. It wasn't nearly as sweet as the 2009 (the only chink in the latter's armor...great beeer), and the scents and flavors invoked elements of my favorite old ales. The 2009 was the most distinctive, with a lot of bourbon flavor mixed with the other sweet flavors noted above. The 2010 tasted strongly of dark-roast coffee and had more hops, as expected, but it wasn't as complex as the earlier years. I have some in the basement and will look forward to trying it again in three to six month intervals.

2008 - Not much carb, a bit syrupy
2009 - Standing next to the other two, the sugars in this are prominent and impact the mouthfeel. Boozy.
2010 - Lighter than the former years' offerings. A fair amount of carbonation.

2008 and 2010 are very drinkable, with the 2009 lagging slightly behind.

I was impressed with the differentiation here. The 2008 > 2009 > 2010, but they're all good. This is an awesome RIS, and, for the price, it's second to none. Buy several, drink one or two, and cellar the rest.

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Photo of djmichaelk
4.19/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

220z bottle into a snifter. 2010 bottle.

A - Not as black as some stouts I've had, showing some deep brown around the edges when held to the light. One finger head burns away to not much of anything. No lacing to speak of.

S - Dark chocolate, coffee, and alcohol. The coffee comes through more at room temperature.

T - Tons of dark chocolate as the nose implies, not as much coffee as I would've thought. The alcohol is not as strong as I thought it would be, and hints of vanilla and black cherry in the finish. Delicious. This is what I keep coming back for.

M - Thick, velvety, and oily. Chewy in the way that I would hope most stouts would be.

D - Surprisingly high. I've had three bombers in a night before and not had a problem. The flavor keeps me wanting to have another sip and doesn't wear on me.

Overall - This is one of my favorite of the easily available RISes. I need to keep reminding myself to buy a case each year when it comes out, and even that probably wouldn't be enough to tide me over until next year.

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

2009 Vintage

A. Pours a very dark black with a tan head that dissipates with no residual lacing.
S. Smells of dark malt and a slight bit of caramel sweetness as well as some coffee.
T. Strong roasted malt flavor with some caramel and coffee bitterness on swallow. Still quite a bit of alcohol burn in the swallow as well.
M. Med-thick bodied with a low (appropriate) amount of carbonation.
D. Once the alcohol burn fades a bit more this will be supremely drinkable.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Jupiter.

A: Served in a snifter, the body is a rich black color with no light penetration even against the powerful California sun. The cloudless sky illuminated a finger of light mocha head (I seem to remember the bottle having a darker head? No?). Just the hint of a breeze ruffled the cap until it receded into a thin collar around the edges. No lace.

S: As I listened to the chirping birds and the chatter of tanned, beautiful people, I enjoyed the wafting aromas of roast, coffee, chocolate, anise, nuts, and just a touch of dark fruit. Luckily, the aroma wasn't overwhelmed by the beautiful foliage of the beer garden.

T: Roast- and coffee-forward. I prefer more chocolatey stouts, but this isn't exactly lacking in that department. Dark chocolate accentuated by a touch of plum. I pick up anise and a nutty character in the finish. The aftertaste brings out roast again. As I sipped on this, I reflected on how wonderful it is to live in California's perennial springtime.

M: My face baked to a light honey color and my serotonins stimulated by the tanning, I swirled this in my mouth and reflected on what a pleasure it is to drink. Thick, chewy, flavorful. Carbonation is appropriately low, though it does result in a coating feel (something that hampers drinking a full glass, I feel).

D: I'm glad it's easily available at a reasonable price. I usually buy several bottles of each year.

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

This stout is jet black with a brown head that leaves lace behind in bands as you drink. The head eventually settles to a thin layer of foam. At this point it could pass visually as espresso.

Roasted malts, coffee and smoke in the nose. I expected some alcohol smell at 10.5% but it isn't here, so I'll look for it in the taste.

Wrong again! The alcohol is very well masked. There is only a slight burn on the palate, barely detectable. The roast and coffee continue on in the taste as smoky elements attack the sides of your tongue. There is also a slight hint of toffee on the tongue. I detect very little by the way of hops. There is some bitterness but it's hard to discern if that's from the roasted malt or from the hops making their presence known. Knowing Stone, it's the hops.

A medium body with the appropriate amount of carbonation. I'd prefer a cleaner wash, but this is a stout after all.

Very drinkable for an Imperial Russian Stout, but without losing any boldness. These could be dangerous on cool autumn evenings. Luckily it's nearly summer and I'll want something lighter next.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,389 ratings
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