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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,375 |  Reviews: 2,759
Photo of chaz410
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm a huge fan of this beer, specifically aged versions of it. The qualities in this beer really balance and enhance over time, but for the sake of simplicity I will review the current year version. I have also found that the last three years of this beer have been very similar so it's pretty consistant for each current year's version.
Pours a deep, thick black body with kakhi head that's about half a finger thick.
Smells of coffee, roasted malt, chocolate malt and bitter dark malt flavors. Some subtle hops and some cocoa ring out as well.
Taste deep dark chocolates and roasted barley. Coffee bitterness builds as you sip it and the warm roasted caramel notes ring out as the temperature builds. A smooth but powerfull finish that's heavy on dark malts and mocha.
A thick mouthfeel that isn't over powering.

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage.

Pours a deep dark brownish black color with a one finger cocoa colored head.

Smell is of huge roasted malts with big chocolate and coffee. Smells pretty tasty.

Taste is pretty similar to the smell, as usual. Big roasted malts, and huge chocolate. Very well done RIS, as Stone usually does. Very complex and blended, cocoa, roasted malts, coffee, earthy hops, and toffee.

Mouthfeel is smooth, thick and creamy. Medium to high level of carbonation, higher than a lot of RISs.

Very drinkable beer, great offering by Stone.

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Photo of Manoftyr
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into pint glass

Appearance-Pours a slick jet black into the glass and a mocha colored head rises and recedes leaving a thick rim of lacing in its wake.

Aroma-Roasted black and chocolate malts with some dark roasted coffee beans and a touch of solvent alcohol.

Taste-A dark malty molasses-like sweetness upfront followed by some dark fruity flavors reminiscent of prunes or plums, a taste of char and black licorice follows rounding out the sweetness with some bitterness. A bitter-sweet chocolaty flavor mingles in and out providing a base for the other flavors to rest on.

Mouthfeel-Thick, syrupy, rich; a classic well-crafted RIS consistency.

Drinkability-Well, it's a RIS so it's not gonna be super drinkable regardless but given the style I'd say ranks about average I.E. a single bomber is more than enough

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Photo of BayerischBier
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: black with some dense head

S: full nose of chocolate and sweet malt

T: dark chocolate like with cream, sugar, and a subtle touch of hops. presents some nut.

M: smooth and creamy. Sweat with medium body with bittering end

D: This is an impressive beer. high alcohol limits the drinkability

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Photo of NorthsideFred
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2010 bottle purchased for $6.75. Served in a Sierra Nevada snifter, (thanks to BrewTull for the sweet glassware). I've had this beer a few times before, but this is the first bottle I've purchased in The Land of Lincoln! Welcome to Illinois Stone!

A: Pours opaque black with a thin dark tan head. Nice lacing.

S: Very complex scent including mocha, licorice, and a little smoke.

T: Very complex. The smoke and mocha are both present, also a little hoppy. mmm!

M: Full bodied. More carbonation than I expected, but not in a bad way.

D: No beer of this style and ABV comes to mind as more drinkable.

All-in-all, a top-notch beer, worthy of its ranking. I plan on cellaring a couple, but I don't know how it could get any better.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a snifter - 2009 Vintage

A: Pours a deep black with a dark tan head that quickly fades to a ring and leaves some lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is excellent! Milk chocolate and cocoa with dark fruit and brewers licorice aromas in there as well. Maybe a bit of citrus from the hops.

T: The taste is full of dark fruit, cocoa, and licorice. The beer gets sweeter as it warms and has a molasses taste to it. It has a lot of roasty bitterness on the finish and a slight hop flavor in there as well.

M: The feel is creamy but on the medium side of full bodied. This could be a bit thicker but it's definitely not thin.

D: Great flavors make me wish I would have put away a few more. The ABV is high enough to kill the drinkability though. Still this should be in your fridge when it's released every year.

I tried this last year and thought it was a bit too hoppy/bitter...the age has done this beer very well. I look forward to trying this with even more age.

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Photo of AJacob81
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this as the tail end of a semi-epic tasting with my brother-in-law including Bourbon County Coffee and 2010 Dark Lord. This more than held its own, which is a high compliment. My BCCS review is already up, look for the DL review sometime later. Anyway, back to Stone's wonderful IRS...

Poured into an oversized wine glass.

A - Dark, deep brown-black, a small amount of light penetrates, but not enough to significantly downgrade. A very attractive dark tan head of about a finger forms, and sticks around as burnt creme brulee floating on the surface.

S - The nose is of roasted malt, some dark chocolate, licorice, and... bacon? This is similar to the Smoked Porter, but this smoked meat scent actually fits the olfactory profile nicely.

T - The roasted malt and coffee predominate, with syrupy molasses, woodsmoke, and figs supporting. As the beer warms, the chocolate and a hint of brown sugar emerge and sweeten this beer as it develops in the glass. A delightfully hoppy finish balances the flavor nicely throughout.

M - Moderately thick, very smooth full body. The finish is dry, which fits remarkably well.

D - More than merely sippable, this is a compelling, but challenging drink. The ABV is hidden very well.

I feel like this is one of the craft beer world's better kept secrets. Very happy that this is readily available in Chicagoland now, and at a very reasonable price point to boot. Will definitely be enjoying this again in the near future.

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Photo of NefariousR
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. glass bottle into a pint glass. Bottles labeled as "Limited Spring 2010 Release."

A - Incredibly dark brown, no light coming through. Frothy tan head.

S - Roast coffee, malt, some sweetness.

T - Heavy roast flavor with malty sweetness in the aftertaste. A slight hint of fig and licorice.

M - Thick, but not syrupy. Pleasant carbonation.

D - Wonderfully complex, yet drinkable, and the alcohol isn't prohibitive.

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Photo of KAVSE
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into Stone pint glass.

A: Black as the night itself. Khaki caramel head quickly dissipates. Brew pours very thick and syrupy forming only a finger of head.
Very light lacing.

S: Smells of thick malt, leather, caramel, coffee, chocolate, and faint alcohol. Smell is reminiscent of the smoothness of a Belgian Dubbel.

T: Incredible. This beer is complex and hits your tongue in stages. Syrup malt sweetness gives way to coffee and chocolate that fades into a delicate hop balance that finishes subtle with a hint of hop bitter.

M: Wraps around the tongue on both sides. Amazingly smooth and balanced along the tastebuds.

D: A high ABV makes this one a sipper but you won't want to put it down after one sip. Darn good!

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Photo of velosuds
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz. bomber into a clear pint glass. Limited Spring 2009 Release.

"Thick, rich, and well, sinful." - From the label. Oh, my.

A-pours a beautiful dark brown, nearly black hue with a two finger tan head with strong retention. Lacing is even all the way down the glass. This is a beauty.

S-The aroma is resplendent. Deep, dark roasted chocolate malts with a vague hint of coffee. Prominent dark dried fruits and sugars, like figs, Turkish apricots, brown sugar and molasses. Amazing.

T-A delicious, nuclear malt bomb. It is adequately hoppy, but is balanced by deep, rich malt flavors reminiscent of figs, brown sugar, and chocolate fudge. This is truly imperial, and fitting for more than a Russian Czar. God, this is great.

M-Substantial yet smooth. The mouthfeel is delectable. If I could have only one beer, it just might be this. Although, a definite sipping beer, because you don't want to rush past any of its nuances, this can be enjoyed in large gulps. I love this beer.

D-This very drinkable. It must be, since I want more and don't have any. At 10.5% ABV the alcohol is not noticeable in the taste, but it definitely contributes to the overall character of this great beer. Extremely well done, Stone.

A note about value. I paid $6.49 for this bomber, which is almost half the price of The Abyss. When I am pinching pennies, I always choose this over The Abyss. It is almost as good, and maybe just as good since I cherish value. This is my very favorite Russian Imperial Stout. I am thankful for the style.

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Photo of kylehayworth
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at a beer tasting at the UPL on 86th and Michigan. This was a 2009 bottle, can't wait to get some 2010.

A: Nice dark black/brown in color, with a similar head.

S: Good roasted malts, with a nice hint of chocolate/coffee.

T: I get a lot of uber dark fruits balancing with some bitter chocolate and roasted coffee undertones.

M/D: Has a moderate/low carbonation. Th alcohol tingle is hidden, which makes it easily palpable, especially for the 10.5%. What else but another great beer from stone, do they make a bad beer?

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Photo of irishking1977
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours thick and black with a fairly moderate creamy tan head that leaves some moderate lacing once the head recedes.

S: Mild chocolate, and massive malt attack. Little to no bitterness detected. Surprising, considering most of Stone's offerings do have some hops bitterness. Not bad, certainly, but unexpected.

T: Rich and sweet, with a major malt presence. It's the main component in this beer. Caramel and dark chocolate are also detected to a degree in the finish.

M: Very thick, smooth, and creamy. Lingers on the tongue for quite sometime. Coats the palate. Near perfect balance with moderate carbonation.

D: A thick, amazing stout that even though it is thick and creamy, it's easy to drink. Alcohol is barely detectable, though it does come through in the finish, and as the beer warms. I don't think I've been disappointed by any of Stone's offerings thus far.

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

A: pours a nice medium thick dark brown. 1.5 finger light brown head. quickly dissapates.

S: mostly malts. sweet and pleasantly complex

T: GREAT! sweet malt, roasted malt, slight hop bitterness. nicely balanced

M: very good. the carbonation is just right, no alcohol burn, long finish

D: probably too drinkable. I could go through a few of these at a time

This was the first bottle I opened from the 2010 release. If cellaring makes this better, I'm excited.

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Photo of beerhan
4.82/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Spring 2009 Limited Release.

What is there to say about this beer that has not been said? Honestly this is the only Stone beer that I have liked and well I have reassured my faith in them. The alcohol is hidden and I am pretty sure this went down faster than my morning coffee. Great Brew.

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Photo of mindlucent2007
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful looking, dark brown pour. Little head, with hardly any lacing on this bad-ass. The smell is dominated by coffee beans. This stout is tasty and complex. Right away I notice the smokey attributes. A serious roasting of malts, coffee, chocolate, and a bit of licorice. Slight alcohol at the end. On the heavier side, but not overdone by any means. Right on point in all areas for this beer style. Good amount of carbonation, which is medium.
A late night sipper. The brew that ends the session. Great job by Stone who has not let me down.

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Photo of Pahn
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a tulip. Bottled Spring 2009.

Appearance: Moderate pour down the side then middle of the glass yields a one and a half inch light tan head that dissipates slowly, leaving swatches of lacing. Color is dark brown / black, ruby red at the edges. Beer leaves minimal lacing.

Smell: The robust aromas you expect from a RIS: chocolate, coffee, roasted malt. Not a lot of dark fruit or hops influence. The main chocolate/roasted malt notes are deep and intriguing though; sweet, creamy, and developing further as the beer warms. Not much alcohol in the nose as well.

Taste: The smell tricked me; this is still a hoppy, alcohol-hot RIS after a year of aging. Neither aspect is abrasive or overpowering though, just strong and present along with the creamy coffee/chocolate/roasted flavors. The piny hops and alcohol really help to keep the almost too-sweet flavors in check. Some flavor very reminiscent of cookie dough emerges about halfway through, which is very nice. Despite a good amount of bitterness coming from the hops and the roasted malt, the balance stays strong throughout. The noticeable alcohol is a boon to the flavor rather than a distraction from it.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and creamy, with a hot finish.

Drinkability: A sipper that tastes so good you want to drink it fast anyway.

Like many Stone beers, Stone IRS is bold while still being balanced, and is a solid example of its style. If you're on a stout kick, or liable to be on one in the future, you'll want to keep a bottle of this on hand at all times. Also notable for the excellent value, $5-$7 a bottle or so, depending on where you are (I paid $6 in NYC).

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Photo of constahoogan
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From the Growler to my snifter, the body is pitch black with zero light penetrability joined with a light brown, camramel, dark sand dune like colored head that leaves prickly blotches of lace along the glass.
Sweet Roasted dark coffee malt, dark chocoloate and caramel accompanied by a hint of syrup on the nose. It tastes just as it smells; Chocolate-Coffee malts at the front, joined by subtle hints of maple and caramel.
The texture is almost milky, silky and very smooth. The carbonation isn't irritating at all.
Overall, this is a very solid beer for the style. I highly recommend this beer to any 'dark beer' lover. haha. cheers

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

A: Pours a dark, motor oil color, somewhat reddish when held up to a (bright) light. Thin mocha colored head around 1 finger thick which dissipated quickly to a fine lacing.

S: Definitely smells of coffee and some chocolate notes, also detected a general "roasted" smell and some indeterminable spices.

T: Chocolate and maltiness were most readily apparent, along with notes of coffee and anise (perhaps the spice I was detecting earlier?). The alcohol is not as present as one would expect for a 10.5% ABV brew.

M: Medium amount of carbonation, sits nicely on the tongue, somewhat syrupy with a very nice feel.

D: Very drinkable, goes down easily, would definitely have another, though with the high alcohol content one should be careful.

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Photo of nickadams2
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A_Pours a thick, dark ,reddish brown. Nice thin,mocha colored head.Good lacing.

S_Dark chocolate,dark fruits,molasses and coffee.Picking up a slight boozy smell.

T_Strong flavor. Dark fruits ,coffee, and roasty. Nice alcohol burn but not overpowering. Spot on for an RIS.

M_Thick. "Chewy" is an adjective commonly used for Imperial Stouts. Never used it but it fits like a glove for this beer.

D_It's a big beer but a bomber sometimes just is not enough.

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Photo of brendanec
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review is a 2010 bottle for the limited spring edition.

appearance - very dark, thick, solid tan head, looked at it through the sun and couldn't see anything

smell - roasty, caramel malts, chocolate

taste - very complex, coffee, liquor, chocolate hint

mouthfeel - thick and gummy

drinkability - very enjoyable and full of flavors. I did not mix with food as it was so overwhelming.

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

Limited Spring 2010 release - case date 3/31/10

A: Pours motor oil/dark chocolate with a nice 1 finger tan head (actually a little less than expected) laced nicely.

S: Big malt, Anise, faint banana-bread, little butterscotch, very interesting...not getting alcohol on the nose.

T: ABV hidden well, malts, chocolate, roast, bit of coffee, more complex as it warms...anise, molasses, caramel, bit of toffee and banana-bread in the finish. Sweetness balanced nicely with hops, but no distinct hop presence.

M: Clean, medium body, not cloying, little lighter than expected.

D: Excellent. Working on 2nd bomber with DH. Highly recommended.

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Photo of mht2113
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drinking a Limited Spring 2009 release.

Appearance- Pours a mocha brown color, very thick and dark, with a light tan head that hugged the glass throughout the pour and drink.

Smell- Rich toffee and coffee undertones with a slight chocolate finish to the aroma all of which persist against sweet alcoholic bitterness. The complex smells nearly knocked me out when I drew a deep breath. A true pleasure for the nose.

Taste- Extraordinarily complex. The initial taste mimics the smell, but beyond the initial tinge of alcohol comes an array of flavors that slowly morphs into a chocolate sensation.

Mouthfeel- A warm thickness that surrounds the mouth.

Drinkability- Very rich and creamy, like biting into savory chocolate mousse. Highly drinkable and delicious.

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Photo of Spider889
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review is for the 2008 vintage.

Had in a bottle at Winking Lizard. I was surprised to see a vintage beer advertized on their World Tour bottle menu. Props to Winking Lizard, I hope this is a prelude of more to come in the following years.

Poured a black coffee color, no light gets through. Has the appearance of syrup on the pour but is actually fairly thin and watery in consistency.

Smelled of rich coffee beans and heavy roasted malt. Alcohol is also is in the nose, but then again, at 10.5% it's not surprising.

The taste was very pleasing. Rich, full of flavor: coffee, thick and chewy malt, muddled hops, and brown sugar. Very tastey and mellow.

I found the beer very drinkable. It was my second beer of the night but I felt pretty tipsy afterward, so the alcohol does a number on you yet I found it not as noticable as one would expect from such a high abv.

Overall I was impressed and would be happy to drink this vintage again and would love to try one with even more age on it.

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Photo of peensteen
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

just had this about an hour ago. Pours lovely, brown to black with a tan head. Smells like rich chocolate and coffee, lightly carbonated with a nice weight in your mouth. Warm going down and finishes nicely resonating with a rich coffee flavour. Highly recommended, try this if you have a chance, especially for those who are a fan of the Samuel Smith Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage consumed 4/3/2010.

The beer pours dark brown to black with a khaki colored head. The aroma is chocolate and roasted malt with some piney hops. The flavor is lots of bitter chocolate, coffee and some piney hops as well as roasted malt. As the beer gets to room temperature you start to get some other flavors including semi-sweet chocolate, caramel, toffee and brown sugar. Medium bitterness overall, much less so than when the beer is fresh. The alcohol is not that present in the taste but it is warming. Thick, creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation.

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