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 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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Photo of sitarist
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.33/5  rDev 0%
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!

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Photo of tunamcdermot
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
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

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Photo of al3
4.51/5  rDev +4.2%
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..

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Photo of Bizz88
4.83/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.58/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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Photo of spoons
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
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

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Photo of mstyne
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
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

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Photo of jdense
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of bump8628
3.78/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

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Photo of pastradul
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
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!

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of elvisnj
4.13/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

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

2008 IRS drinking it in 2010, split.

A- dark dark, small tan head. mild carbonation

S - hops, malt, roast, coffeeish, some other stuff too!

T - oooh yeah! very nice. roast and coffee taste upfront. very hoppy. Smoother, less hot than the 2010 I recently had, and with a fuller body. Great sipping beer. Seems to reveal other dimensions as you imbibe the drink over time. As it warms up, it sweetens. Cannot taste the alcohol - it's very, very well hidden. Beware!

M- good, enjoyable, feels thicker than other stouts I've had.

D - very big, bold flavor. would not want to drink this all night. One or two small glasses would be fine. This also packs a wallop in terms of alcohol. Wow, after 8 oz of this beer, I'm feeling the buzz and have not detected any alcohol.

Stouts ( and their bigger imperial cousins) is one the styles I rarely pick up, but I might be more inclined now.
Imperial russian stouts and american barley wines seem to share some attributes: bold, strong hop flavors , big malts ( more so with stouts) and thick mouthfeel . this is from my overall still limited experience with stouts. Quite enjoyable, but the strong, roasty flavors probably hold me back from enjoying stouts as often as barley wines. I don't seek it out roasty flavors..but again, I think this might require some "studying".

I feel there's a difference between the 2010 and 2008 ( the older beer clearly winning out) though I am not drinking both side to side. Again, study is required.

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

Pours black like motor oil, with a nice caramel head about one inch thick with nice lacing and retention.
Smells of malts, nice chocolate malts, roasted to perfection.
Tastes malty and delicious with so much chocolaty goodness.
Mouthfeel is seriously creamy with a great heat going down.

Probably ranks in my top 5 beers at this point.

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Photo of weatherdog
3.65/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Brixies in Brookfield Il, served in a 12oz. snifter

It pours a pitch black with a dense light mocha head that lingered for a minute or two before disappearing. As the liquid level lowers medium lacing is stuck to the sides of the glass.

The nose is exploding with deep roasted coffee with a compliment of chocolate. It just borders between a deep roast and burnt for my taste. I'm also picking up a little pine type hop aroma at the end.

Coffee flavors dominate the flavor much like the nose. The flavor is just over the line in terms of having a distinct roasted grain flavor but isn't so burnt that it makes the beer unpalatable. Not much chocolate in the flavor but alcohol in the backend is a large component. This is my first time having this beer and I can see why people rave about aged versions.

The carbonation is much too high and distracting from a smooth mouthfeel. It finishes pretty dry which I much prefer over a sweet finish in RIS' Drinkability is ok but not great mostly due to the high carbonation. If I let this one sit for 30 minutes to an hour I bet it would improve.

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

Vintage 2007 presented in the form of a brown swing top 2 liter growler that was filled at the Warwick hotel during the Stone takes over the Warwick event. The event took place on 4/9 and this review is from notes taken the following weekend of 4/16 when the growler was shared with those who could not make the event.

The growler surprisingly enough opened with a very resouding thud. I was worried that the growler fill might have left this brew a little flat when compared to the draft version but to much excitement that wasn't the case.

Poured into a Stone pint glass, it appears a very dark brown to black color with a darkly tanned head that doesn't retain all too well. Nose is bitter smelling roasted malts with chocolate sweetness and a slight touch of soy sauce blended with coffee. Rounding out the aroma is some citrus hops and alcohol. Taste is a big malty sweet monster of a brew laden with alcohol and notes of bitterness from both hops and burnt grains (that also exhibit the flavors of coffee and bitter dark chocolate.) There is a residual sweetness that lingers tasting almost like dark fruits that blends with the alcohol laden dark chocolate and coffee that makes this dangerously drinkable and quite smooth. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated this vintage was a real sweet and alcohol burning treat. As it warms, there are notes of licorice coming through with the ever increasing alcohol presence that was previously hidden by the malt sweetness.

I've had this brew a number of times in varying years and serving types. They have always been an enjoyable experience with their own unique characteristics. While fresh this brew is quite bitter but time let's it smooth out and become a little more sweet (like this example.)

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

22 ounce bottle, 2009 vintage. Although I have had this beer a number of times fresh, in the past, I have heard it is supposed to be even better with age, so I'm giving it a try. Pours a deep, impenetrable black, topped off with a thick dark brown head which quickly recedes. Aromas of roasted malt, strong, bitter coffee and dark chocolate. Flavors of black licorice, roasted malt, dark chocolate and smoke. Silky smooth and very good.

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Photo of jpmclaug
4.31/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz 2008 bottle poured into my Stone IRS snifter. I've had this one before but this is my first time having it since I started to review.

A - Black as black can be with a small tan head resting on top. The head isn't all that big but what little is there won't go away.

S - Chocolate, vanilla, caramel with a hint of booze. Pretty standard aroma for a RIS.

T - Really smooth. The flavors follow the nose with a little bit more of a dark chocolate/vanilla flavor at the end. I wish it had a little bit more roastiness but this has a solid flavor profile.

M - Pretty thick body but not quite as thick as some other RIS's. Very little carbonation.

D - Really easy to drink especially for a 10.5% beer. I really enjoyed this one and I am sure this one will be in my cellar permanently and in my shopping cart quite frequently.

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

Medium espresso-like head that doesn't linger. Wine like nose (reminds me of a mouvedre or syrah) with some peety notes. Lush and round Mexican chocolate on the palette with apparent but not overwhelming alcohol and a lingering but not cloying finish. To be honest, that may be among the most appealing qualities of this beer, the degree to which the alcohol is integrated. Having tried a number of other recently released high-octane stouts (KBS, Rasputin Oak aged) this one is showing much better right now.

Really a remarkable beer. I only even gave it less than perfect marks on appearance because this was my first review and I wasn't exactly sure what made up an "exceptional appearance"

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