Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Imperial Russian StoutImperial Russian Stout
8,411 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: 8,411 |  Reviews: 2,770
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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Photo of GENNER
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm not sure what took me so long to try this...but later is better that never.
Purchased a 22oz at Bevmo +/- $6
Brew date Spring 2010
Poured into a classic Guinney 20oz pint glass.
Produced a nice brown head about an inch and a half.
No light thru the glass, very black in color.
First inhale off the head was of sweet mocha coffee.
Taste was exactly what I smelled finishing with a light alcohol taste just enough to remind me that it's a beer and not a coffee drink.
Mouthfeel was very full not as heavy as expected by looking at it.
Very drinkable that's the scary part because of the ABV...10.5%
I loved it and have talked about it with everyone I talked to this weekend including my mom.

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

2010 Vintage. Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Bruery tulip.

Inky cavernous wall of liquid topped with a light frosting and slightly thicker collar of desert sand foam. Light lacing and thin oily legs.

Big aggressive aromatics - chicory, roast coffee, fennel, licorice or maybe light molasses, brown butter or possibly toasted brazil nuts, and a hint of dark fruit (figs, prunes?).

Quite roasty, and full of esters suggesting cocoa-dusted raisins. Lots of flavor, but primarily bready; I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop mid-palate, i.e. a heady dose of hops, but it never comes. Stone has stuck with a classic recipe here and resisted stamping it with their signature muscular over-dose of ingredients. Well done. There is a lingering sweetness, but the roast helps slowly dry out the finish. No diacetyl, and clean despite a hint of char.

Lush, rich, chewy, and full-bodied without being overly thick. Moderate carbonation with perhaps the faintest astringency. Alcohol is rather well concealed.

Powerful, yet compared to all the massive RIS out there, this is almost delicate.

While excellent on its own, this would be a superior addition to a BBQ marinade as well.

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Photo of TheJollyHop
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage 8oz pour at Stone's Vertical Tasting

On draft with no head. Deeply black with no noticeable hues, leaving me curious as to what flavors may be lurking in the viscous depths of the tulip glass.

Smoke on the first whiff couple with alcohol; oh yeah this is a monster. Dark chocolate and coffee follow up and some sweetness; possible molasses. Definitely one of the best noses on an IRS I have had the pleasure of smelling.

Chewy and completely palate enveloping. The syrupy goodness just grips your mouth and doesn't have any intention of letting go. My taste buds pick up some dried plums and cherries, and the alcohol warming is noticeable but the smokiness does a decent job of covering some of it up. Bitterness bursts early but is quickly replaced by a sweet malt backbone. Very well balanced with some age.

The balance and interplay of flavors; smoke, roasted barley, sweet dried fruit and pleasant bitterness make for a great drinking experience. A pleasure to the last drop.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
5/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is crazy excellent. Poured a 12oz. (2008 spring release) bottle into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Completely opaque, black the whole way through. Has a dark foamy head, close to a coffee or chocolate milk color. The head actually has a couple levels of darkness to it. It's darker the closer it is to the liquid. Not quite, but almost has the nitro looking effect to it. The head sticks around for a little while than provides some lacing to it. It's truly a great looking beer.

The smell is equally excellent, it has a great aroma to it. Bittersweet chocolate and darker roasted coffees. I would say a bit more chocolate than coffee, but they complement each other extremely well. It's very malty and the hops are noticeable, but not overbearing by any means. I've found some RIS's to have just a burned malt smell and taste, but this almost has a toasted aroma and taste to it. If you're really looking for it you can smell a hint of alcohol, but it's gotta be at room temperature, can't really notice it otherwise. No complaints about the smell at all.

Wow does this beer taste great, completely on par with the smell. The sweet and bitter flavors complement each other absolutely perfectly. Starts off sweet and has a clean, smooth, slightly bitter finish. For such a high ABV, you don't really taste the alcohol, which seems like it could be a little dangerous. As mentioned with the smell, it has more of a toasted flavor from the malts than a burned taste. Light hop flavor at the end, burps up nice too. This beer is perfectly balanced with all flavors, as close to flawless as I've ever had.

It's full bodied but for the amount of flavors its not as thick as one would expect. Silky, smooth, with a clean bitter finish. By far the most drinkable RIS I've ever tasted.

Have two more 2008s about five 2009s and a 2010, so don't be surprised if I make some edits to this one. But just go out and get this beer, it's been a personal favorite for several years, I'm glad I finally took the time to review it!

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

Russian Imperial Stout - 2010 Spring - served from 22 oz. bottle into snifter.

A - Black as night, jet black, with half finger brown head and good lacing. Light-medium carbonation.

S - Heavy toasted malts and chocolate with definitive coffe/espresso notes.

T - Like 90% cacao dark chocolate. Bold toasted malt flavor with some light hoppiness on the initial taste. Malty sweetness holds throughout but finishes nice and dry. Lingering chocolatey aftertaste and slight alcoholic warmth. Well balanced, not cloying.

M - Amazingly smooth for a high gravity IRS. Definitely not a session beer, but highly viscous on the tongue but not syrupy.

D - Fits the style well - this would be a great after dinner/dessert brew that will function as coffee and rich chocolate all rolled into one. I haven't tasted any of the earlier vintages, but this is one I would be happy to revisit again given the opportunity. Stone, always a quality brewery, really hit the nail on the head with this one.

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Photo of Axic10
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage. Poured from bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a half a finger of mocha colored foam that disappears quickly.

Smell: Got a huge whiff of this as I was pouring about two feet away from my nose. Bold coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts, and a faint sting of alcohol.

Taste: Espresso, burnt malt, dark chocolate, slight alcohol burn on the swallow.

Mouthfeel: More medium bodied than heavy, very smooth.

Drinkability: Such a great beer that I've routinely overlooked year over year. Won't happen any more, as this is a world class home run by Stone.

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Photo of SanAnMan
4.73/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 edition, on tap at the local Flying Saucer, served in a standard snifter glass.

A - can complete lack of color be described as a color? Pure jet black ebony, no light at all anywhere. Not even a laser pen could cut through this sucker. Exquisite onyx goodness.

S - burnt cocoa, wood, and deep malt notes combine for a sugary yet bitter nose. Reminds me of smelling the embers of a fireplace combined with carmelized candy sugar.

T - like a fine Swiss dark chocolate, mellow yet bold at the same time. Sweetness from the malts on the back of the tongue balances out an undertoned hoppiness up front. A bit dry, but makes you want to come back for more.

M - slick and smooth, the heat of the 10.5 ABV speaks volumes here. Meant to be slowly sipped and savored. The chocolate notes make this to be a great close to a session.

D - I'll admit to being a bit predisposed to Stone's IRS, as I still have two bottles of the 09 version cellaring in the fridge. But for fans of a great IRS, Stone really sets the bar high with their offering. This is an annual selection I really look forward to trying. Great beer from a fantastic brewer.

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Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,411 ratings