Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Imperial Russian StoutImperial Russian Stout
8,413 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: 8,413 |  Reviews: 2,771
Photo of baos
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one on draft at Shallos

A: Opaque with tiny little head, no lace to speak of.

S: Deep in chocolates and hops with some burnt caramel coffe notes.

T: Huge malt. Unsweetened chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel. Then big hops and a bit of booziness.

M: Very nice almost milky silkiness.

D: A strong brew but a could take them slow throughout a long winters evening.

Thanks to Doug!

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.83/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured into Sprecher snifter.

A- Pours a pitch black with a half finger worth of mocha head, The head doesn't stick around for long and doesn't leave any lacing.

S- heavy on the roasted malts and brown sugar. There seems to be a little bit of grain in there and the alcohol peaks out as the beer warms.

T- Big roasted malts, molasses and rich brown sugar. A little bit of bitter chocolate and just a tad bit of alcohol in there. Pretty well balanced.

M- medium to full bodied with really good carbonation. Just the slightest bit of heat on the tail end.

D- One and done for me, bombers that is. Just a tad sweet and hot right now. The ABV is barely even noticeable. I hope Stone stays in WI for this beer alone. I also heard the the sweet spot for this beer is around two years, so I have an '09 and'10 in the cellar.

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Photo of IronCitySteve
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours a nice black color, very viscous looking, with no light really coming through. Provides a nice thick brown head. Ample lacing.

S: Big amounts of malts, mostly chocolate, burnt toast, coffee and dark fruit.

T: The big chocolate flavor hits the palate first, followed up with the intense burnt toast and coffee/espresso. As it blends together it has a slightly smokey taste.

M: Thick and slick on the palate, very creamy.

D: A delicious dessert beer for a cold evening. The 10+ ABV makes this a one and done for me in one sitting, but that is not a bad thing. I would certainly treat myself to more in the future.

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Photo of Douglas14
4.97/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 Release

I look forward to this beer release every year. at least nine months pass before I get to re-taste it. And in that time my palate matures and I assure myself that I cannot once again be amazed by this beer. I've outgrown it or become better than it, I tell myself. But then I drink it and am amazed again! For 5 years now this has been going on and everytime I drink the Stone IRS I'm in awe. This might be my all-time RIS. It has every quality I'm looking for in the style: roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and overall great malt sweetness. It has a near perfect black color with just a touch of brown around the edges. It's smooth but not velvety or creamy. it's just what I want. Excellence.

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

2010 bottle poured into a new belgium snifter on a lazy sunday afternoon watchin the phils.

A- three fingers of dense tan head from a hard pour that settles slowly to a nice frothy skin. Black as hell with a bit of dark brown at the edges.

S- very dark roasted malts and bakers chocolate, some dark fruits and coffee. A bit of spicy boozy heat.

T- deep layers of complex roast. Coffee, chocolate, burt dark bread, some wood character. Sweetness behind with blasamic marinated dark berries and molasses. Bitter hops do show with this rather fresh bottle. Long hot roasty linger.

M- full bodied but not syrupy nice mid to low carb that rests the brew on the palate and keeps things lively.

D- big huge stout with a ton of bold flavor. Bigger hop profile then most. Not for the faint of heart and a 22 to the head will do the trick. Ill say I do prefer it with a few years down. Go phils.

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Photo of larryi86
4.68/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter

A- A nice black color with a three finger dark tan head.

S- A nice coffee smell with hints of dark chocolate.

T- Very close to the smell, bitterness comes out.

M- Smooth, refreshing, and creamy, just great!

D- Easy to drink and a great stout. My first RIS and I truly enjoyed every drop!

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

Appropriately poured into my new Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip - quite the sight.

A: Pours a thick, but not quite oily, black. A generous two fingers of coffee-tan head forms nicely. Thick, caramel sheets of lace stick around all sides of the tulip.

S: Roasted malts, very subtle dark fruits, and a little burnt chocolate. Some coffee as well as a hint of vanilla here. Really rich scents - very inviting. A little heat becomes apparent as my glass empties.

T: Strong roasted malts with hints of coffee. There's a nice bitterness that tames all these strong, sweet flavors. Aftertaste is a nice sweet chocolate with a slightly boozy finish.

M: Excellent feel. Moderate carbonation and full body. Creamy and rich - fits the style to a tee.

D: Very smooth, and it only gets easier as my tastebuds warm to the taste. Very rich, but I'm diggin this beer. Hard to beat the quality you get here for the price.

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4.07/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone Imperial Russian Stout, the lone IRS in a field of RIS's. Draft pour served in a 9 oz snifter for $5.50.

A: A one finger medium dark brown head becomes a thin film and chunky collar after short retention. The body is pitch black with no passage of light, even when held in front of a bright window.

S: The nose is chock full of heavily roasted chocolate and espresso malts plus some slightly meaty yeast. Additional aromas of ash and smoke, vaguely reminiscent of a campfire built of waterlogged lumber. Piney hops. A vigorous swirl brings about a nose deserving of my 4.5 rating.

T: In addition to what the nose imparts, a touch of well-conditioned leather is noticeable on the palate. Long lasting flavor. Good, but 'impressive' doesn't come to mind. The alcohol is incredibly well-hidden.

M: Full body mouthfeel with a gritty texture and prickling carbonation. The effervescence is more aggressive than most RIS's, but I view this as a positive with this particular brew since the flavors are merely baseline for the style.

D: Drinks closer to an 8.5% ABV instead of the 10.5% advertised. Pretty solid all around but I'm satisfied with one glass. I would have no problem recommending this brew to an average stout drinker.

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Photo of Vixie
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick dark black with a nice half inch tan head. The head doesn't last too long, and leaves some nice lacing.

Smells a lot like coffee. There's also a bit of chocolate, and some fruit, mainly raisins.

Tastes very much like it smells, coffee and chocolate. There is sweetness there, and a bitter hops finish. Part of the taste reminds me a bit of a rich chocolate cake. There is a lot going on here, fruit, coffee, chocolate, and flavors I can't readily identify. Been a but since I've had a beer this complex.

This is one very solid beer. It grabs your attention and won't let go.

Surprisingly drinkable considering the ABV. A very strong, solid, serious beer, yet goes down easier than others I have tried. As rich as this is, would be hard to drink a lot, but that is not a bad thing. Like a very rich delicious dessert, best enjoyed in moderation, but time spent with it is well worth it.

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Photo of johnwarne
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A beer haiku for you:

"Massive Russian Stout:
Brace for the alcohol taste-
Great? Nyet: big black beer"

Rave reviews from most BA members: on the whole, a solid offering from a respected brewer. However, the alcohol taste I noted was much more pervasive than most beers exhibit--and that to me is not necessarily a good thing. One and done--Cheers!

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Photo of mobyviacheslov
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Oil. I poured a small amount into a balloon glass and tried to tilt it to an ultrathin amount, and still, no amount of light will show through. This is black. A disappointingly thin, chocolate milk colored head formed, though this could have been the fault of my pour.
S - Bitter dark chocolate, cinnamon, vegetables (broccoli, in a good way?), slightly smoky, woody, earthy, everything a IMP Ruski should smell like.
T - Most of the nose comes through on the tongue. Delicious, ultra-dark chocolate bitterness. A decent, almost umami undertone of dirt/shrooms. A little smoke/smoked meat as well. There is a slightly sweet malt in the background, but very subdued. Very true to the style, pleasingly not sweet stout. Very bold.
M - Thick and creamy, yet a fair amount of bubbles, helping the bitterness play on the tongue. Not gummy at all.
D - This is very thick, very heavy, and very bold. The 10.5% certainly isn't hidden, but it isn't overpowering either. That being said, this is an after-dinner, or with food, slowww drinker.

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Photo of jculler82
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber to Duvel tulip. Fridge aged about 6 - 8 months.

Poured straight down the center of the glass. Pours pure black, opaque, with a thin tan head. Head fades rather quickly.

Smells of some coffee, dark bitter chocolate, faint dark fruits, mild roast, and some fruity alcohol esters. Everything is nice, but the aroma, though complex, isn't strong out of the glass.

Flavor of this imperial stout is wonderful, a perfect blend of coffee, dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, and in the background some very slight dark fruits, with just the slightest hint of alcohol in the finish. An outstanding beer. The mouthfeel is just full enough to satisfy for the style, but not full enough that after half a glass you feel like you've eaten a full meal. Very drinkable.

Overall, the drinkability of this stout is dangerous. I could drink more than one bomber of this, which at 10.5% is scary. Great beer, seek it out if you've not had it.

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Photo of uberabr
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is so intense. Everything about it is bold and robust, it makes quite an impression.

Poured from a 22 into a snifter. Moderate carbonation and mild mocha colored head. Appearance is a deep black with some reddish hues. Not much lacing. Aroma is pretty subtle but it's very nice -- a roasted malty nut predominates along with some crisp hop and a slight estery plum. A hint of molasses and grape, it's got a light fruity thing going on in the background.

Body is wonderful, it's light and effervescent in the mouth. Extremely drinkable for such an alcoholic brew. Taste is rich, it really explodes in the mouth, and seems to have distinct waves of various flavors coming through. Initially it's a little bitter, just light and frothy and a tad phenolic. It then quickly rounds out into a rich combination of chocolates, caramels, and roasted nuts, with some apple and orange peel. Maybe a touch of black tea. It leaves the mouth with a buttery malt, more of the phenols, and a touch of that acidic orange peel. It's literally mouth watering, and my glass is getting empty quickly.

All in all a lovely brew and a very impressive imperial stout.

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Photo of vkv822
3.97/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle into snifter.

Pours black, with a thick milk chocolate color head and great retention. The aroma is of rich chocolate malts with a slight roasted backing.
The flavor follows the aroma fairly well, with chocolate, slightly roasted malts up front. But it also has an odd, but pleasant very light note of dark fruit and almost a citric hop splash towards the finish after it warms a bit. It has a nice smooth, full body with decent carbonation, though it could be a bit more active.
This is a very enjoyable, and solid presentation of a RIS, and while I will no doubt look forward to next year's offering, I doubt that it will be anything I will truly seek out or keep in my cellar.

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Photo of bradleyp
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again Market of Choice for keeping this beer in stock. This was the Spring 2009 release. I don't know if that is all that's out, or that's all they had left from last year. Once I opened the bottle, the aroma hits you in the face with coffee, chocolate, some black licorice. Pours a very dark cola color, but is very, very black once in the glass. This beer goes down rather easy, but at 10.5 abv, i could drink one and be done. There is a chocolate milk flavor I think. At least that's what it tasted like to me. Such a great beer, I can't wait to get another one.

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Photo of TrippnFiasco
4.82/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into Dogfish Head snifter.

A: One-finger head is a nice, caramel-y dark tan color. Beer looks like oil or tar being poured into the glass. Zero light gets through this one. Gorgeous!

S: A bit of alcohol comes through on the nose, but it is balanced well with the smell of bitter chocolate and espresso. There is a very nice caramel maltiness to the aroma as well. Fantastic.

T: WOW, this is phenomenal. Dark, slightly bitter chocolate comes through and melds perfectly with the mild coffee and roasted malt flavor.

M: Interesting, the mouthfeel does not match the appearance of the beer. Not as heavy as I expected and leaning much closer to medium-bodied. Carbonation suits it perfectly.

D: Very drinkable considering the ABV and nature of the beer.

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

poured into a dfh chalice, light does not pass through this beer. nice tan head. left some nice lacing.

nose is rich with dark chocolate, coffee, roasted barley, black strap molasses. it's great.

rich dark cocoa/chocolate flavor, slight bit of dark fruit. nice roasted coffee like flavor, brown sugar, a touch of phenolic smoke. that might be my imagination though. finishes with a slight bitterness to round out the sweet malt flavor.

big thick full bodied, not overly sweet though from unattenuated sugar. really a great beer. this and smuttynose RIS are my favorite in terms of this style.

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Photo of Phillyphilms
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bottle into Chimay challice ;)


Different in many ways that a traditional Russian Stout but then again, Stone is much less than a traditional brewery so go figure. They jam their "stone hops" into this which although much less common (traditional) for a beer of this style, it works amazingly well.

Nice think black pour, amazing head for a stout of such high alcohol that hold a few fingers firm and eventually reduces into a thin layer with incredible lacing like oatmeal.

The nose is big, strong and DARK! Coffee up front with espresso and more coffee. Chocolate nibs and some nutty malt.

Taste is my favorite part of this beer however as the strong 10.5% abv is present as it envelopes your tongue in a silky coffee liner. I have heard some say it is less desirable than other RIS but I think the oddity of the hop addition and bite add to it's desirability. At least for me.

Big Heavy Body on this with enough alcohol to trick you into believing it's all carbonation. Not a party beer by any means, but a great beer with a nice piece of meat or even better the desert after that steak. I'll find this again and again and will probably rate this higher than it deserves.. but EFF IT, I LOVE IT!


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Photo of itfitz
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow -- this is one of the best-assembled Imperial Russian Stouts I've ever had.

Stone throws their signature hops into this -- at first, the idea sounds dubious, but the result is more than pleasant.

Make sure you read the back label. It's hilarious and reflects the great sense of humor that the Stone guys have. But it also gives some insight as to how and why they did what they did to this stout.

This stout is all about coffee. It pours looking like a faintly-ruby red motor oil, with a nice tan cafe-au-lait head.

The aroma is again coffee, with a bit of dark chocolate, floral hops and citrusy fruit. It's a quite-pleasing smell.

Once it hits your tastebuds, the real fun begins. Not surprisingly, coffee jumps at you, but the chocolate and roasted malt follow on quickly. It is mildly-heavy, but less so than other Russian Stouts. You won't want to drink more than 2 or 3 of these.

It finishes well, the carbonation being replaced by a velvety smoothness, and leaving a great aftertaste.

Stone has hit another home run with their version of an Imperial Russian Stout. Chtob vse byli zdorovy!

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

Poured from a big ole' bomber labeled 2009 spring into a snifter.

A- Black chocolate body with very difficult to find red highlights when held to a lamp. Nice soft fluffy light chocolate brown head with good retention.

S- Predominant smells are of chocolate, roasted coffee and big malts, all around very sweet and inviting. The chocolate reminds me of a milk chocolate and I wouldn't be surprised if there's lactose in here.

T- I get all of those mentioned above and as the brew warmed up, the fruit started coming through. Black currant is mentioned on the bottle and I'm getting the taste of this bitter fruit, somewhat of a wine flavoring getting thrown into the mix.

M- Very thick, nice low carbonation. The keyword here is THICK.

D- Hell yeah baby. A very complexly flavored beer with layers upon layers. Nice stuff. enjoyed the bottle.

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2010 vintage, Sam Adams glass, 22oz bottle.

This is a hell of a dark Stout with the style's trademark fingernail of ruby as the only translucence. The head isn't abundant but seems to be persistent in a color close to coffee froth.

The aroma is chock full of coffee, so much so that it smells much like Founders Breakfast Stout. Dark chocolate is mingled and there are twinges of peppery hop, charcoal, and solvent.

There is a lot of coffee here too and more dark chocolate. Anise, dried cranberries, black pepper, orange oil, and alcohol fill up much of the remaining flavor. The hopping is high and great in its herbal pungency. As I said in my review of Double Bastard; I see a lot of potential here.

The carbonation just seems to emphasize the spicy hops, which I like. Slippery is the texture.

Again, like a 10.5% ABV beer can truly be drinkable? This is tasty but a decadent treat.

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Photo of simpliciter
3.72/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - dark with a tan head, looks lovely in a brandy snifter
S - burnt chocolate with coffee, perfect w/ dessert
T - nothing but chocolate here
M - big, but light --- with wonderful bubbles
D - dessert only. very hot and sweet, only ~6oz per person please

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

This is from some notes during last nights abomination of a basketball game. This pours black, and gives about an inch of beautiful tan head. Good lacing. I smell fresh espresso, bittersweet chocolate and a bit of toffee. Pretty much smells like a candy shop with roasted malts kicking around. The first thing that hits my tongue is espresso and then some cocoa. It has a richness that I would think to find in maple syrup. Espresso flavors linger in the middle of the tongue. A little bit of alcohol but at 10.5, you gotta expect a little bit. Feels silky and rich in the mouth. A bit syrupy, but overall pretty amazing. Easy to drink with the 10.5 abv. A little bit of warmth from the alcohol, but it's really just enough to you let you know it's there.

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Photo of sfprint
1.79/5  rDev -58.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Bought from Ledgers in Berkeley, CA.

A: It looks quite frightening actually. It poured more like tar or molasses than a beer. Little carbonation. Looks like a super dark, dense, flat cola, tar pit.

S: Unique smell, having problems identifying it exactly. Very strange. Although the bottle cap states that its 100% natural,part of the smell it has i would associate with chemicals, the other part with rubber, or rubber cement.

T: Wow, quite different from other Russian Imperial Stouts I've had. The alcohol is very strong in the taste, and it unfortunately doesn't taste very natural to me. The aftertaste is unpleasant, very bitter, like a some kind of garden weed. In the body, I do taste coffee, but it's not good coffee. Somewhat sweet.

M: Initially it goes down very smooth, but then the aftertaste creates this bizarre, mouth puckering sensation like you've consumed something potentially poisonous.

O: Bleh. Maybe I've drank this beer too soon. On the back it recommends trying it every 5-6 months, and since it was "released" this spring, and it's only June, maybe it wasn't the right time to drink? I will go read the other reviews now and try to see what everyone else see's in it. It's definitely disconcerting that my experience is so far different from the other reviewers here.

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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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Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,413 ratings