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:
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Ratings: 8,411 |  Reviews: 2,770
Photo of phiberoptik
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to billinlafayette for this one as a bonus in a trade. Bottled in mid-2008 so it had a bit of age to it.

It pours night black with no light translucence. The head is a cocoa brown and maybe 1/2" thick in a pint glass. I purposely spread this tasting out over 2 hours to see how it developed as it warmed. Thank goodness because by room temp it was perfect!

I didnt catch much of an aroma from this beer from the pour other than some heavily roasted malts. Maybe because it has a couple years of age to it and was fridge cold, but nothing hit me in the nose like a fresh beer usually will. As it warmed I caught a lot of bitter chocolate, anise, and alcohol in the nose and it really started to open up.

Lots of dark chocolate and anise in the taste. Roasted malts of course and ALCOHOL. There is no hiding the 10.5 ABV in this one. It lets your throat in on the secret almost instantly. This beer is for sipping and enjoying. Its like a fine brandy or cognac... I had no issues taking 2 hours to drink it.

Mouthfeel is smooth, silky, with a hint of sting from the ABV. A little bitterness at the end with the anise.

Highly drinkable, but only one per sitting. I couldnt drink multiples but maybe others could. I just dont have any interest in drinking multiples unless over the course of an entire evening.

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

The 2010 offering (also their 10th Anniversary of brewing this beer, says the bottle). Another fantastic offering from the always great Stone.

A= almost black with a slight reddish hue when held to the light; modest tan head dissipates quickly to modest rimming then little lacing.

S= hefty nose of smoke, well-toasted dark malts, some prune, lots of complexity, hops florals evident. Some dark dry chocolate evident after it warms a little.

T= very hefty stuff, toasted dark malts, slight sweetness but also dry from the malts, enough hops to carry it, hardly a trace of the 10.5% ABV which is great (tired of feeling like I'm drinking a high ABV beer that tastes like it was dosed with a shot). Some nice burnt chocolate which is more evident as the carbonation dissipates. Light green hops evident after it sets for a short while.

M= very nice mix of dry bitterness and light sweetness, hops, plentiful flavors to savor.

D= as much as one can tolerate until the ABV% catches up. And it's not cheap, about triple the price of a good craft per ounce. But well worth a few bottles!

Would make a great dessert beer, especially with chocolate mousse or Bavarian Chocolate cake.

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Photo of iD9
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in my awesome Cal Poly glass stein.

Appearance: Medium-dark tan head. From the appearance I would have thought it would diminish quickly but its sticking around incredibly well. Completely opaque in every dimension. Just the slightest sliver of reddish, chestnut brown dances around the bottom edge of the glass. Good stuff.

Smell: Deep roasted malts, dark coffees, chocolatey goodness (and maybe just a hint of boozey bourbon?). Although not unique from other RIS I've had it is exceptionally well balanced and smells excellent. Can't wait to get started.

Taste: "Yum" is really the only word I have for this brew. Very good in all measures and expertly balanced. My only qualm with this beer (and its almost not worth mentioning) is that it is nothing terribly unique. This beer is, in every way, a paragon of the RIS style. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Deep, smooth and creamy yet not overly heavy. The only way I can describe this beer is that it is a textual pleasure to drink as well as a tasty one.

Drinkablity: In situations like this, I can only assume that (should the beer gods ever grace us with their penultimate brew) there is or will be a beer with better drinkability at some undetermined moment in the future. As such I would like to give this beer a 4.895 but I'll settle for the 4.5 since giving out 5.0s frightens me.

Overall, an exceptional brew. I have never been a big fan of Stone brewery. This Stone Imperial Russian Stout (not to be confused with a Russian Imperial Stout mind you) has changed the way I view their craft. Well played Stone... well played...

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Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was really a delightful beer, and I can see why it holds a spot on the top of the lists. I had both on tap and out of the bottle, and I was a little more impressed when sipping it out of the bottle.

The appearance is black as can be as you would expect with a deep colored brown head. The smell is sweet and full of alcohol. The drinkability of this one is out of this world, and the full body of the beer blends so well with the deep tastes of chocolate, molasses, and roasted barley. For 10.5% this one goes down smooth. This one has surely gone on the list of top RIS's.

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Photo of Foxtrot
4.87/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5


Alright. Its been more than 1 year since I've enjoyed Stone's IRS, and wanted to re-review it. My palate has changed a lot, and was just curious to see if the score change.

Bomber to snifter. Pours blackest obsidian with no brown/amber hues around the edges. Head was of dark brown sugar, with decent retention. The legs of this beer are also pretty wild to look at. Thick and viscous like a fine scotch or bourbon.

Now onto the aroma, and what a pleasant aroma at that. The aroma is incredibly multi-faceted with chocolate, caramel, and molasses being the most notable components while vanilla and espresso heightens the olfactory experience. Also detected a touch of alcohol, but its a 2010 bottle.

The ultimate test; taste. I hardly use any harsh language but F&*@! this beer is unbelievable! Flavors to note first off are chocolate, rich and dark, molasses, toffee, raisins, ripest cherries, and brown sugar. Mid palate is a real treat; currants, licorice, and some roasted char really linger and add to the sweetness at the front end. The contrast from sweetness to bitterness is phenomenal, and subtle. Finish is nice and long as to be expected of the style, but the aftertaste really makes it a pleasure to enjoy in between sips.

Mouthfeel is just about the silkiest and smoothest I've come across in my beer career. The carbonation levels are spot on for the style. Just enough to lift the flavors off your tongue, but not too much to hide it's subtleties. Big and bold and smooth are the three words that come to mind.

This is a hot beer, but being a 2010 bottle, it is still immensely drinkable. This beer is a sipper of the highest echelon, and should be enjoyed with a good snifter and chocolate to really make this beer pop.

P.S. I loved this beer the first time I reviewed it, but having it now feels like I'm doing this beer more justice. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and will absolutely buy a case to cellar. Stone, this is a mighty good RIS.



Breaking in the new snifter with this beer

Poured a absolutely jet black with no light discoloration around the edges. Nice foamy tan head dissipated after a few minutes from pour.

Lots of notes of chocolate and dark malts with some very very ripe cherry scents and of brown sugar.

Tastes of bitter chocolate are every present, with dark fruits taking a back seat. Mellows out with double doses of molasses and caramel to make this Russian Imperial Stout absolutely fantastic. Finishes very smooth with good carbonation throughout.

Mouthfeel was near syrup. Coats the entire mouth with a slick and smooth goodness that is very typical of the style.

A good drinkability factor, besides the liver loving 10.8% ABV it is one beer that I will be sure to keep an eye on.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nearly opaque. Deep and ominous black. Nice tan head that sticks around for a few minutes and leaves a decent coating in it wake.

Toffee, cocoa, roasted malt, rich dark chocolate, alcohol.

Extremely rich. There are a lot of great complexities in this brew, as noted in the aroma. It's very rich and delicious, however it's also a bit hot. The alcohol, particularly in the finish, is a bit forward. This is a fresh bottle, brewed Spring 2010. I can definitely see how this beer would greatly benefit from a few years of proper cellaring.

Shockingly smooth (at first). Leaves a nice coating around the palate. Warming alcohol finish, which gets harsher as you progress through the bottle.

Alcohol becomes more and more evident as I continue to sip. This would be a good beer to split, perhaps several ways. I had trouble making it through the bomber by myself.

Notes: I understand that this beer improves with age, but so do a lot of beers. I just don't understand why this beer has such a high rating. There was never a moment when I was really moved by the taste of Stone IRS.

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Photo of alli4051
3.74/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured into a nonic.

Pours a deep, viscous black with a thick dark khaki head. Head recedes quickly leaving some lacing. Smells or rich, roasted malts along with some chocolate and espresso. As expected taste is roasty and chocolaty with some hints of espresso. Taste is surprisingly bitter, a little too bitter. As it warms things get a little smoother. Drinkability is surprisingly high with this one. I can't think of another stout this robust I could drink all day were it not for the 10.5% abv.

Picked up a few extras to cellar for a while, I fully expect to bump this review up a few points once it has some age on it.

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Photo of Bookseeb
4.36/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance pours out almost black having a thin head, but no lace. Smell of dark rich chocolate, coffee and molassas, having some dark fruity earthiness to it. taste is again rich as in the above aromas with some roastiness and having alchohol present, but not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is full with a good spike of carbonation makes it a smooth go down. A nice complex stout that is great to sip on and enjoy.

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

Roasty and thick, just the way i like em about sums up this Imperial Russian Stout for me, it has alot of roasted malt that verge but don't quite get into coffee territory, although the aroma does have quite the coffee smell to it. there is alot of bittersweet cocao that compliments the roasty notes wonderfully, and a very light alcohol on the finish that is enjoyable. There is a subtle sweet side tucked inside of this beer, caramel is dominate on the sweet side with a touch of vanilla powder. I love how thick this is, this is how a RIS should be, viscous and almost sludgy, and yet there is still a decent amount of carbination spreading the flavors around the pallete. great RIS.

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Photo of homebrew311
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Glad to see this one in Chicago, been wanting to try this brew for a long time now. Poured in to my Stone Levitation tulip.

A: pours inky black, zero light passage, 1 finger dark brown head on pour, dissipates to a thin film of bubbles that linger on the surface of the beer

S: huge roasted barley character along with some licorice, molasses, nuttiness, and some noticeable alcohol. There is also a decent hop bite on the tail end of the aroma

T: the front features dark chocolate and molasses which is then followed by a sizable earthy hop character. The roasted barley comes through on the finish along with some booziness. The taste doesn't have quite as much roasted character as the smell would suggest. This is well balanced nonetheless and would probably benefit from a year or two of age

MF: very thick, almost chewy texture, medium carbonation- seems a tad higher than necessary

D: another solid brew from Stone- really liking the fact that they began distributing to Chicago. Looking forward to trying this after some time in the cellar.

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Photo of Radley521
4.88/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Imagine my excitement upon leering into the cooler at Worden's Market in Missoula, a bottle of Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout was staring back at me. Decision made in a heartbeat, and that bottle went home with me.

Upon opening the brew, the air was filled with cocoa and coffee waves of aroma. As I poured it, the anticipation was overwhelming.

Appearance: Rich dark, black coffee color with a one finger dark tan head.

Aroma: Incredible mocha-like tones. Almost felt like I holding a hot chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Exquisitely silky, or maybe more like drinking velvet.

Taste: Chocolate and coffee with a right hop bitterness. The high alcohol (10.5%) was almost entirely hidden except for comfortable warm on the back palette. Roasted characters are in the background - noticeable but not the stars.

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Photo of chaz410
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
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 -5.3%
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 -2.8%
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 +1.2%
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 +3%
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 -4.8%
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 +3.9%
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 +3.5%
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 -2.3%
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 +6.7%
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 -2.3%
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 +3.9%
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 +0.5%
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 +11.3%
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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Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,411 ratings