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Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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2,721 Reviews
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,721 | Ratings: 8,280
Photo of Spiff
3.05/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appreciate Imperial Stouts - but this is more bitter than expected - too much licorice. Bites the side of the tongue. Instead of alcohol flavoring - it ends with hints of hand sanitizer. Spiff is hurt and disappointed.

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Photo of bonesTdog
4.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The 2011 vintage - Thick, black and rich in the glass. Anise is the predominant flavor and aroma right up front. Overwhelms the coffee, chocolate, light roast and fruit in my opinion. Keeps your interest but not my personal favorite.

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Photo of SensorySupernova
4.74/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Extremely dark brown - just a bit of light gets through around the edges. Even a pretty aggressive pour yielded a short brown head that faded to a ring around the meniscus.

Smell: Mainly roast malts, coffee, caramel.

Taste: Similar to the smell at first, but a bit more chocolate, gets a little sweet in the middle. Slightly smokey. As it warms there is a clean alcohol puff at the end.

Mouthfeel: Very thick with low carbonation.

Overall: Delicious. Everything about it feels substantial. Had it 3 months after bottling.

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Photo of Jeffsta1
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black as night, convincing color. Very little head, tan.
Smell is fine, not intense, nothing off-putting.
Taste is good, deep, ruchy, malty. Not too sweet. Some bitterness on the finish.
Good mouthfeel, not too hot, despite 10.6% ABV - well done, guys.
Overall a very good stout. Well integrated. Not the absolute best there is, but damn good.

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Photo of stevoj
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bittercreek Alehouse Dark Days 2014 pouring this 2011 vintage. Not much can be added here, a truly superlative beer. Dark with a tinge of ruby, smooth and velvety, plenty of gentle warmth.

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Photo of Gorilla_Biscuits
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 edition. Tastes like dark chocolate and coffee mostly. You also get a tangy taste afterward from the black currant. Super good, grab these while you can.

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

A: Color is dark brown, and may even look black, which will take away its transparency, as one wouldn't be able to see any light shine through the glass. Clarity is black, and head is a very light tan color, which may even come off as beige.

S: The aroma comes off as coffee, or even dark chocolate, with a possible hint of nuts. Not very hoppy, nor were there any really "off odors"

T: Taste is a bit on the sweeter side with a bit of a smokey flavor. It tastes like roasted grains. Didn't really notice any "off flavors". There was a bit of a coffee, dark chocolate, and nutty taste in the beer.

M: The beer felt full bodied, and the aftertaste was strong, though did not last too long. There wasn't much CO2 or fizziness in the beer, though the beer seemed to have a stronger alcohol presence.

O: Overall, it was a solid stout. Tastes good, and was just what I expected from a stout. I enjoyed it with a good taste of coffee, dark chocolate, and maybe even dark fruits, but the nuttiness was definitely apparent.

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Photo of ajm5108
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nothing stands out about this beer...yet, there really isn't anything to criticize. It checks all the boxes for the style, but just doesn't do anything with it. Solid, under-the-radar standby.

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

2015 Imperial Russian classic release.

Stone has created another massive brew with highlight s of anise,currant,coffee, roasted malt with just enough bottle conditioning carefully hidden in one heavy weight contender coming in on the scales at just under 11 percent %.

Bargain to find at the grocery outlet store for $7.50+ tax for a 22 oz bomber.

Huge booming rich and so satisfying did not need or even think about opening a second bottle. Classic warming shared with chocolate lava cake for dessert.

I have tasted a few better but also paid steeply for the privelege such as Ale Smith speedway stout coming in at $75.00 and all the sub varieties of the coffees and bourbon barrel aging etc did not impress me to the point Ale smith was worth the &5 bucks +.

Stone another San Diego brewer should be proud of their hard work following old school authentic methods to create this heavenly brew .

Stone claims no sins committed in the bottling or brewing that's up to the person enjoying however drink in moderation with the keys to the car secured for the night.

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Photo of EMV
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had on tap at World of Beer in Orlando, FL - poured into a snifter.

L: Pours a pitch black with a small amount of white head. No light is penetrating this beer.

S: Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate.

T/F: Roasted malts and alcohol dominate, with tones of chocolate and almost a spicy flavor comes through. Warming, with a pretty strong alcohol punch. Minimal carbonation and smooth.

O: I wanted to like this beer more, as I'm a big fan of the Gargoyle and their arrogant brews. Big time roasted malts and coffee flavors, but the spiciness put me off a bit. This may be on account of the tap not having been properly cleaned. I'll be picking up a bomber and doing a re-sample at the earliest opportunity.

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Photo of dmgeng
4.69/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I've had this in 2013 but didn't get a bottle last year and with so many beer since then I knew this was good but could exactly pin down where this ranked until I'm reviewing and drinking a 2015 (2 months in bottle.)

A - Deep dark brown that settles into a dark black. It pours thick with a medium brown rocky head and good lacing.

S - Tons of of sweet malt smell with roast, chocolate, caramel, some smoke, and some coffee notes radiating out. There is not a single aroma that is overpowering but blends nicely. Not the strongest smelling RIS but has everything it should.

T - This beer evolves in the mouth with a rich malt character that is sweet and chocolaty on the front then quickly goes into more caramel, coffee, and light smoke. Towards the end there is the bitterness you would expect and desire with roast, bitter coffee, bitter chocolate, and some herbal bitterness. Again nothing is over the top and is quite balanced for the depth of flavor. This beer rolls across the palate and you can discern it all, which to me is the hallmark of a great beer.

M - High mouth-feel with perfect carbonation. Good balance between sweet and bitter and overall mouth-feel which again makes this beer a terrific representation of the style.

Overall, this is one of the best examples of a Russian Imperial Stout you can find. Great breadth of flavor, great balance, and low cost make this one a seasonal that you should get at least once a year. I know that there are more unique, richer, and overall tastier version of the style but yet again Stone was one of the forefathers of the craft beer movement and for years this was the best representation of great beer that could be found coast-to-coast.

Glass- Snifter

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Photo of dutesanch
3.52/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured a 2015 from the bottle into my 16oz Stone logo snifter. Not for me I guess. A little watery and lacked the taste I expected considering how highly regarded it was. Maybe age helps. Smells great though.

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Photo of hail_seitan
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured 22 oz. bottle of 2014 vintage into brandy snifter

A - Pours viscous and oily. The body is a virtually opaque dark, dark brown. The only real head to speak of is a thin rim of frothy cappuccino-colored foam along the sides of the glass. Tiny bubbles form an oil slick across the top of the beer. Scattered speckles of lacing with accompanying legs.

S - The odor is strongly reminiscent of dark dried fruits - a menagerie of figs, prunes, and raisins. These fruity esters are supplemented with a hearty dose of caramel and cold-brew coffee. A touch of grain alcohol sweetness, too.

A - A specter of smokey coffee teases the tongue before dissolving into a full blown manifestation of caramel and fig sweetness. The sweetness borders on cloying, but is delightfully balanced by tobacco, dark chocolate, and vanilla notes. The sweetness slow burns to the finish along with a mild burn from the alcohol.

M - Sticky, chewy, and oily with minimal carbonation. Nearly perfect.

O - A great Russian Imperial Stout. I honestly think I preferred it without a year of aging - the raw intensity of the sweetness is offset by more coffee and chocolate notes in a fresh version of this beer. Nonetheless, a real treat!

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Photo of CTbrew32
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 2014

Appearance- Black with a slight brown color as well. Pours a very thin mocha colored head.

Aroma- Roasted malts and sweet dark chocolate

Taste- Bitter roasted malts are big at first. The bitterness subsides a little as chocolate takes over the flavor in the finish. As it warms up a citrus hop flavor is noticeable in the middle.

Feel- Full bodied, low carbonation, and a creamy texture.

Overall- Pretty straightforward beer with roasted malt and dark chocolate dominating the flavor. Overall, its a solid IRS but nothing spectacular. Maybe a year isn't doing this any favors.

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Photo of teromous
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Oil black body with a thin khaki head that fades quickly to a ring and a few rafts of bubbles. Some minor spots but no real lacing.

Aroma: There isn't much aroma here. I am picking up a light charred scent like the inside of a coffee pot that has been left on the burner. I also pick up a strong alcohol aroma, which isn't a surprise given the 10.6% ABV.

Taste: I want to point out first that this beer doesn't have any overwhelmingly strong flavors, which really is its strong point. It is very enjoyable to drink because of this. I pick up some faint sweet caramel and roasted coffee, then there is a bit of pine and a woody character like a strong tea. I do get an alcohol flavor in this beer but it marries well with the flavor. Everything is mellowed out without feeling washed out.

Mouthfeel: It has a really good mouthfeel. It's thick when I start drinking the beer, but it doesn't feel sticky or linger on the palate too long. It does a good job of delivering flavor on a nice thick tide that ebbs away leaving pure aftertaste.

Overall: It is a very good Russian Imperial Stout, especially if you're not looking for something over the top. It delivers a wealth of flavors without crushing your palate to the point that you get tired of the beer. It is definitely a beer that you can sit back and enjoy an entire bomber of. I do wish it had more aroma, but there's no doubt that I enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of TBonez477
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Nearly black with two fingers of beautiful mocha head.

S: Molasses and fig, slight booze.

T: Drinks similar to aroma, more chocolate and coffee on the finish.

M: Smooth and creamy.

O: Delicious and worth the acclaim.

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Photo of Gear54
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a bomber into a snifter

Pitch black with 1/2 finger of thick kaki head. Foam fades quick and notice lace left on the glass.

Smell is the best part of this beer in my opinion. Initial aroma is dark roast coffee and hazelnut. Also coco and toasted malts to give some grain aroma to the scent.

Taste is very rich coffee and dark chocolate. Really no bitterness at all with this beer. Malts add a nice grain flavor. I'm also getting a nice sweetness like raspberry and mango. The sweetness gives it really good balance.

Feel is string as well. Flavors coat the mouth and stick to the palate for several min. Each sip is smooth and full flavor. No boozy flavor or scent makes it easy to enjoy which is nice considering the high ABV

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Photo of Apellonious
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bomber bottled 3/5/15, poured into a tulip.

A - Jet black with tan half finger head that moves quickly to a thin lace.

S - Chocolate, cocoa, coffee, and some faint raspberry. Not picking up much heat.

T- Roasted grains, cocoa and chocolate, mild bitterness and some alcohol heat on the finish.

M - Medium mouthfeel, carbonation low, slightly creamy and sticky when it warms up.

O - A solid RIS, one of the better ones I have tried.

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Photo of coltonbrimhall
4.44/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

-thick black with thick brown foam
- mellow dark grain scent very mellow
- thick big alcohol warm but almost burnt grains very big flavor
-thick and chew able
- top notch take on a Russian imperial stout

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Photo of oldn00b
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Great look, flavor, nose - just felt a little lighter than I'd like or expect. There are a lot of really great stouts available that this one doesn't quite stand out but it's still a really great and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Bone53
3.92/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 3/26/15

Appearance: Completely black in the glass with zero light shining through. Aggressive pour results in an enormous brown head

Smell: Heavily roasted malt, bakers chocolate, caramel, slight smoke. I dont pick up any of the alcohol

Taste: I get that roasted malt and bakers chocolate upfront with a smoky finish. Undertone of hops as well

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy medium body; Goes down amazing considering the abv. I dont get the alcohol at all. However, it is a bit more bitter than i prefer in the style

Overall: This is a good but not great RIS. Whatever lacks in flavor and robustness is made up in drinkability. This is one of the easiest drinking imperial stouts iv had fresh, or any beer iv had over 10% for that matter. This really reminds me of GL Blackout Stout in that regard. A little too hoppy and smoky for me, but that would mellow with age. All in all worth picking up and cellaring, but i once again find Stone very overrated

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Photo of Thrifty101091
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage drank on 4/22/16. Lots of delicious fruity notes come out now that it's been aged. Very easy drinking as you can expect and it's 10.6 percent alcohol. Worth aging every time

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Photo of timontheroad
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured very dark black, with a two finger bubbly brown head that receded to a quarter inch thick foam, great lacing. Aroma was coffee, dark roast malt and booze. The dark roast malts really stood forward in the flavor, with some coffee, dark fruits, and of course the alcohol. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy smooth - very nice. Overall, Stone hardly ever disappoints, and this beer is no exception.

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Photo of Oldlogin
3.92/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The after taste is harsh, though not totally unpleasant ..There are other higher end stouts that I would recommend . Completely a matter of subjective taste.

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Photo of FaradayUncaged
3.71/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours an amazing black with brown head but quickly downhill from there. Smells of burnt malts and boozy alcohol that carries through the taste and finish. Mouthful is a plus but overall seems like maybe some age is a good idea. The burnt flavor and smell is all too powerful and dampers what seems like an otherwise pleasurable experience.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,280 ratings.
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