Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

8,375 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 8,375 |  Reviews: 2,759
Photo of aasher
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

 672 characters

Photo of squaremile
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

 501 characters

Photo of Darien
4.16/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

 452 characters

Photo of bierguru
3.66/5  rDev -15.7%
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

 534 characters

Photo of Dodt
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
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

 320 characters

Photo of levifunk
4.47/5  rDev +3%
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!

 782 characters

Photo of klikger
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

 1,546 characters

Photo of djmichaelk
4.19/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

 1,034 characters

Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.08/5  rDev -6%
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.

 466 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

 1,416 characters

Photo of Naugros
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

 1,101 characters

Photo of sitarist
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 batch.

Pours a root-beer color, almost opaque. Coral colored head falls quick to a small ring, no lacing.

The aroma is complex but light with hints of licorice, horehound, caramelized pecans, grape jelly and toast, and an earthy/woodsy/musty scent.

The flavors match the nose, with the caramelized pecans and licorice leading the way, it has dark red wine undertones.

Everything is right on with the mouthfeel. Medium to heavy body, thick, warm, and coating. It has a deep dry finish.

One fine sipper! Bang for the buck this blows most beers in this class away! Ive paid twice the $$$ for RIS's that dont even come close.

 631 characters

Photo of cnjohn19
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

grabbed this one from HV Bottle Shop in Durham, NC...indicated on the label this was a limited edition Spring 2010 release...

pours an unpenetrating oil black with a light brown fluffy head...outstanding lacing and head build...looks inviting to any stout fan...

smells of dark and rich roasted coffee beans...i'm also getting something sharp to the nose, most likely the alcohol burn...

holy shit, this one is tasty...there's a ton of flavors in this stout, but as odd as it sounds it is extremely balanced...the roasted malts dominate but the burn of the high alcohol is well received...very creamy with a solid aftertaste...the carbonation takes control of your mouth...let this one warm up in your glassware and you'll get a caramel flavor that will knock you down...truly awesome warmed taste...

i'd highly recommend this brew, one of the best i've had...i enjoyed this one with a friend from england playing pool in his at-home pub...cheers!

 951 characters

Photo of tunamcdermot
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a - nice dark color, gentle pour into a pint glass yielded a lovely caramel head about the thickness of my little finger, some lacing as the head receded

s - rich roasted smell with chocolatey notes

t - robust flavor with mixed sweet and bitter, gentle roasted notes

m - thick, almost sensuous mouth feel, but not too heavy

d - very drinkable, even with the ABV

 365 characters

Photo of al3
4.51/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - No sunshine, poured it high and got a nice cascade effect, some lacing.

S - roasty, coffee, chocolate.

T&M - Sweet upfront with chocolate, caramel, molasses, with a silky feel. A coffee, roasty flavor, with a peppery alcohol bite on the finish.

D - The case recommendation printed on the bottle is a good idea..

Overall a great beer I will be buying again. The flavor was spot on. Very well balanced and a easy drinker. I think the feel will get better with age, it was a bit harsh on the finish. Let this warm up a bit if outta the fridge. My favorite Stone so far..

 577 characters

Photo of Bizz88
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured crypt black as the Ace of Spades with a finger and a half silky carmel head finishing thru the entire glass with sticky lacing. Aromas of dark chocolate, roasted malts with a slight alcohol tint. Taste was off the chart with a semi-sweet dark chocolate and robust coffee infusion with a touch of malt. A full bodied nicely carbonated brew with a warm finish. Yeah this brew drinks like it belongs in the top 100.

 419 characters

Photo of DovaliHops
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a tulip glass about a month after its 2010 release. Big, frothy, silky tan head on this one. Black as night. Smells very roast with a pleasant chocolate scent. Tastes like dark chocolate with toasty dark fruits as well. This one is a little boozy, but I expected that. I have 4 others that I'm gonna age to allow to mellow out. The mouthfeel is amazing on this, and drinkability isn't too bad considering such high ABV. The drinkability will only get better as this one gets older. Very good imperial stout.

 524 characters

Photo of spoons
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a bomber to a tulip. just below room temp.

Color is very dark black. Can't see through it at all. A good coffee colored head that fades to a ring pretty quickly.

Smells gently roasted. A mild soy sauce smell as well. A mild coffee note.

Tastes is sweet and gently bitter, not that harsh roasted barley bitterness. Super smooth and has a nice coffee like flavor. Great aftertaste.

I'll drink this again. I would definitely like to see a nice bourbon barrel aged version made with such a fine imperial stout as its base. Delicious

 537 characters

Photo of mstyne
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber from Beverage Mart on NY 66. "Limited Spring 2010 Release"

Pours ink black and thick, with a thin tan head. Aroma is amazing; chocolate, coffe, malt, everything you could hope for in a stout.

It's hard for me to pinpoint individual flavors; this is a fairly complex brew -- at least to me. Very similar to the scent, coffee, chocolate, and a bit of bitterness. A great beer from one the US's premier breweries.

 419 characters

Photo of bigfnjoe
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 1L growler into a pint glass. Growler was filled off a nitro tap.

A- Pours black with a very creamy looking, 3 finger brown head. Head fades rather quickly but leaves some very nice lacing.

S- Roasted malts, a hint of chocolate, and a whole lot of smells amazing. Heaven on earth.

T- I'm mostly getting coffee, with faint undertones of chocolate. There is a slight alcohol taste to it as well...quite lovely.

M- This is heavy. A little syrupy. The nitro gives it a creaminess though...theres a smoothness there that helps balance everything out.

D- Everything but the alcohol makes this super drinkable...if it wasn't so strong, you could easily pound back a few of these. But because of that underlying alcohol, gotta hold back a little bit

 784 characters

Photo of jdense
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle from John's Marketplace PDX shared with beer buddy poured into Chimay chalices.

Black opaque body, no visible carbonation due to dark color, brownish tan head, quick dissipation, with good layer of lacing running down the glass. Nose is big coffee hit with C hop finish with good caramel malt presence. Taste is more coffee than chocolate, good noble hoppy presence, not picking up the anise and black current notes mentioned on bottle description, though I picked up hints once the bottle warmed up a bit. Mouthfeel fairly full good effervescence. While this is a tasty beer, there was very noticeable alcohol heat, so I'm sure the drinkability will go up after several months of cellaring this 2010 vintage.

Edit- "Had" to pop the early Spring 2010 vintage from cellar, poured into HOTD tulip. Nice and chocolatey,coffee notes are now fairly subtle, hops have mellowed a bit and the alcohol is well hidden. Not sure this will drink much better in the future, it's really good right now. Upped taste and overall score. IMO one of best American interpretations of the RIS style along with Southamption.

 1,118 characters

Photo of bump8628
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black with a mocha colored head.

I'm immediately greeted with some hot alcohol esters and some milder fruity esters. As I continue to delve into the beer a whole spectrum of roasted malt flavors reveals themselves. Lots of dark cocoa, hints of high-quality coffee, and even a little smoke. Hops are there, but aren't in the forefront. What they contribute is an earthy, balancing bitterness.

A nice Imperial Stout. Next time I'll go with a bottle and hold onto it for few years to mellow the heat.

 505 characters

Photo of pastradul
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at K&B wine cellar.

I haven't had this beer on draft or in a bottle for a while now. It was great to revisit an old favorite.

Poured into a snifter. Has a nice .5" head on it that is a creamy coffee brown.

The aroma is just amazing. (I can defenitly tell my palat has evolved a bit since the last time I have had this beer) So much coffee present in the nose with a slight malt back bown.

The mouthfeel is not to heavy and syrupy but just enough carb to help cut it a bit.

The taste is so great. Lots of strong coffee notes going around the mouth in the front of the mouth and followed with the malt starting to take over. a nice heavy malt follows then the alcohol warmth finishes the beer! A very drinkable IRS!

Living in san diego i sometimes don't take advantage of these amazing locals! got to remember these brews more often!

 853 characters

Photo of silver0rlead
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an impenetrable black with a thick cola colored head that retains surprisingly well, this one is a real looker. The aroma is also impressive, with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, dark fruits, dirt, burnt bread, citrusy hops, molasses and a hint of alcohol. The flavor has some roastiness upfront, along with gourmet dark chocolate, black coffee, dark fruits (plum and date), burnt bread, piney hops, and a touch of alcohol. The mouthfeel is rich without being overbearing, and drinkability is excellent for the style. Overall an extremely good interpretation of the style, without going overboard on the hops or the roastiness.

 636 characters

Photo of elvisnj
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber with classic Stone gargoyle etched on the bottle, into my Duvel tulip chalice.

Looks great coming out. Nice brown head and silky black brew. Takes a bit to calm down for drinking.

Mouth feel is great. Its rich and silky and syrupy.

Roasted dark chocolate malts work well with the mouth feel. Bitter hops at the front, with nutty coffee hint with smokey vanilla, chicory, and a smoothly and ultimately dry finish.

I could only taste a little bit of the 10.5% alcohol but after finishing the bottle, I am positive it was in there.

Awesome RIS. Stone is still spot on.

 596 characters

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,375 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.