Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Imperial Russian StoutImperial Russian Stout
8,412 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: 8,412 |  Reviews: 2,770
Photo of beerguy101
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2002 version. Eclipse black color. Head is medium. Aroma is roasted malts, fruit esters and dark chocolate. A big bold full bodied Imperial Stout. Deeply roasted malts, fruity (touches of cherries, plums, apricots and raisins), vanilla, chocolate and coffee. It has a nice hop bite. Its very smooth for all the flavor stuff going on here. Soft and creamy texture. Mild and soft carbonation. Excellent sipping beer. Hides the 9.6% alcohol very well. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is smooth. Aftertaste is slightly sweet.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

An awesome brew, this strong stout is near perfection in virtually every category. The incredibly dark look is topped by a small, but impressive dark milk chocolate head that tends to form slowly and leave too quickly. Still, what remains behind is a fairly impressive lace effect from the residual layer of foam.

The smell is roasty and warms the mind just hinting at the great flavors that are going to come from the thickly inky body. And come it does, with volumes of roasted coffee taste and a thick mouthfeel that informs that this is not your average stout. The overall effect is so full of the coffee and bits of caramel as to nearly overwhelm the senses. The only weakness in this lovely presentation is the limiting effect of the alcohol; limiting as to the sense it gives the rich, tasty brew and limiting in terms of being able to drink more than a little of this great beer.

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Photo of scottum
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out BLACK with a short light head which leaves a nice lace. The darkness is real my friends. Dark in the look, but also dark in the feel. Mouthfeel is big and black. The taste is good. Not the best Imperial in the land, but a good one none the less. I'll let this Imperial review to be the chance to recomend Magic Hat Nailbiter as the best in the land. Storm King is also quite good. But failing those two I would reach for this over an Old Rasputan which is also good stuff. I love the style, what can I say? I'm glad that this beer was finally retailed in Boston the week I left town so I got to try it.

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

22 oz bottle. "Late Spring 2003 Limited Release". Pours black with a thin dark brown head. Thick lacing. The aroma consists of chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and has a pleasant overall sweetness to it. Full-bodied mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy. Almost chewy. Flavors of molasses and honey covered chocolate roll ever-so-sweetly over the tongue. Taste turns a bit vinous at times with flavors of plum and raisin. Finishes up with a mildly balanced hop bitterness that adds another delightful level of complexity. Behind all this goodness, veiled in the shadows of the blackness, lurks an ass-kicking 9.47% alcohol. By the time you notice it, it's too late.

There are very few beers that linger in my mind days after consumption begging to be had again. Stone Imperial is one that's been tough to get out of my head. This could quite possibly be the ultimate Imperial Stout.

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

This was a very tough decision to make. Should any beer be worthy of perfect 5's? Finally, I decided that it wasn't fair to Stone to deduct a point somewhere just because there should be no such thing as a perfect beer. After tasting this, I think I may have been wrong. I honestly don't think any imperial stout could top this. Jet black in color with a thin tan head that just seems to hang around for an eternity. Roasted coffee is dominant in both the aroma and the taste. There are also traces of plums and raisins. What more can I say? As far as this particular style goes, I don't think you can top this.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 vintage; poured from a 22oz bomber .
Pitch black color. No light could penetrate, even when held up to the late afternoon light. A veritable black hole as no light could get through. A rather wispy tan head formed and quickly disappeared.
Smell was an assault on the olfactory senses. Aromas of roasted espresso beans, caramel, prunes, dates, figs, and a heady whiff of alcohol to foreshadow what was next.
Taste was even more intense. Strong flavors of mocha/espresso, carmelized dark brown sugar, dark dried fruits, and roasted barley combined for a syrupy sweetness tempered by a faint hops taste and an alcohol kick in the finish.
Feel was thick, smooth, almost oily. Filled the mouth and was rather cloying.
Damn, I'm still full from this beer and it's been 3 hours! A great tasting brew that hides the ABV% well until it gets close to room temp. Then the alcohol really comes out and sucker-punches you. This offering from Stone is what all those fizzy yellow "dark beers are heavy" beer drinkers have nightmares about. Tough to work through one of these brutes alone but worth the taste treat.

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

22 oz bottle. Poured a pitch black, with a massive head, some good lacing on the glass. Aroma is roasted barley, espresso coffee, chocolate, and even alcohol! Whew!! The taste is like drinking a quadruple espresso, with chocolate, syrup and a shot thrown in. We're talking big taste here! Creamy smooth and easy drinking even with the high alcohol content.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz brown bottle, capped, no date, but vinage ("Late Spring 2003") listed on front label.

This stout poured an opaque, black color with creamy brown foam (with coaxing) that settled but clung to the glass a bit. The smell was a very pleasant sweet roasted barley aroma with grain, malt, and oatmeal? in the mix. The taste was sweet and malty with roasted barley, chicory, fruit (figs, raisins), hints of coffee, and toffee, and a trace of alcohol. The hops were present in the finish. The mouthfeel was smooth, sweet, creamy, and warming, with full body. The aftertaste was nice and lingered. This was a very enjoyable Imperial Stout! Dangerously easy to drink.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.78/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2003 edition, 22 ounce brown bottle.

Pours thick, & completely black. Capped by a dark espresso coloured head. A perfect 2 fingers, with the appearance of rising dough. Various sized bubbles break the surface with the promise of whats to come.

An intense nose with notes of roast espresso, anise, grapefruit, & a hint of solvent.

Complex flavour, featuring notes of cinnamon, espresso, and all of my favorite dark fruit buddies: raisins, plums, & black currant. A bit of warming alcohol, is followed up by a semi dry finish including a bit of grapefruit. The hops are quite punchy, but not overwhelming. They make their presence known without making a bitter stout. As it warms it begins to take on a minor perfume like aftertaste.

Thick, chewy, and syrupy. Viscous, like carbonated 5W-30.

This stuff is liquid desert!

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Photo of RoyalT
4.92/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Black as night with a ruby tinge. The head was kind of weak but lasted the glass really well.

Smell – Super stout flavors. Huge coffee and chocolate mixed with molasses and malt to make this an olfactory orgasm.

Taste – My Lord! The big coffee (Starbuck’s finest) has a lot of company in here. Raw brown sugar is a big player, along with chocolate syrup, prunes and raisins, kahlua, light toffee, and a complicated flavor that reminds me of tiramisu. This thing is awesome.

Mouthfeel – Low carbonation, typical for the style, and a smoothness that is beyond reproach.

Drinkability – I don’t know how Stone gets their brews so smooth, but this went down like silk.

Comments – I’m wary of being the newbie that rates beers too high – especially after my Ruination spasm attack (I’m still twitching) – but this brew embodies everything I believe a Stout should represent.

Update – The Stone RIP has established a reputation as one of the best beers made in America, and it is very well-deserved. In comparing the 2003 to the 2005, the only dig I can find is that the Appearance isn’t “perfect”. Otherwise, it’s as close to straight 5’s as you can get without gettin’ there.

The nose is incredible and changes dramatically as the beer warms. The sipping flavors come so fast they really make you slow down when drinking. You almost want to set up a tent out in the street and start telling people about it.

The Mouthfeel is impeccable and just does fall short of some of the best that I’ve ever had. Drinkability? You gotta be kidding me! I raise a toast to Greg and the entire Stone staff for putting everything together (once again). Cheers!

Update – I popped one of my cellared summer-released 2005s in June 2006. It’s just starting to get into the sweet spot. The alcohol is picking up steam and the sugars are opening up nicely. It still has plenty of body and will be perfect on its second b-day.

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

2003 edition. Awesome. By the way, thanks Chaduvel for this one. Brewed in California, delivered by refrigerated truck to Boston, purchased by Chaduvel at Juliana's, flown in baggage to SLC, driven to Logan, and consumed shortly thereafter. What a life for this magnificent 22 oz. beer. Split this one with Kluk. Poured darker than the 4000+ mile motor oil I just drained out of my subaru. Not as thick though (thank god). Formed a small to medium sized tan head. Smell was dominated, initially, by freshly cut barley and roasted espresso. But I also picked out plenty of alcohol, raisins, and other complex fruity/chocolatey mixtures. Amazing. Taste was much like the smell. Big roasted malt presence but the alcohol and the chocolate and the sweetness of the overripe fruits balance this well. The finish was warming and just bitter enough. The lacings on the glass are great. Very thick, rich, and syrupy; just how I like my imperial stouts. My half of the bomber was gone too soon...need more...hmmm...I can really feel this alcohol. Thanks again Stone. 3 for 3!

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Photo of cretemixer
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 release

Pours darkest auburn but rests in the glass like a black hole. The creamy head is the color of lightly creamed coffee with a little two tone swirl effect going on. The head settles to a "cling-ring" after a few minutes leaving no lace.
The aroma is as promised. Rich and thick with notes of toffee, raisins and licorice.
The first taste is of mildly bitter coffee, with a shot in it. The alcohol is apparent from the get go and warms all the way down. Becomes dryer by midglass and a hop bitterness comes into play as well. The dark fruits in the aroma are there along with bitter chocolate towards the finish as it sweetens up a bit.
I was expecting this beer to be a bit more viscous. Don't get me wrong, it is full bodied and slick in the mouth, but I was expecting a bit more thickness to it.
Overall a very drinkable Imperial Stout and one worth seeking out.

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Photo of Rumrunner
3.96/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz. bottle

A very complex stout but somewhat on the sweet side for me.

It pours a great dark brown with a deep tan head. Very nice lacing. The smell is sweet malts and alcohol. There is also some sweet fruit scents mixing around as well.

The flavors are very sweet creamy mocha. Some light roasted coffee and a heavy taste of molassess. The flavor of alcohol is present but it does not hurt the flavors too much. Some prunes and fruit but not much hops. The flavors are complex but the sweetness is not what I look for in a stout.

A nice syrapy mouthfeel. This is a heavy creamy stout. Excellent body. It drinks impeccably smooth.

Overall I enjoyed this stout. I just did not love it and I can think of others that I would purchase before this one.

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Photo of kmcnair
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2003 release, 22oz bomber.

Oh where to begin... what an incredible honor it is to drink something so good. This exceptional imperial stout pours a thick opaque black and leaves a thick sexy tan head in my glass.
The smell is very rich, sweet and licorice. The taste is thick of roasted coffee, licorice, currant, smokey and is delicious. Leaves a nice lace on my glass. Mouth feel is exceptional, very warm and smooth. My 22oz bomber is more than adequate, but I feel as if I could drink more and more. This is the epitome of an Imperial Stout, do not pass this one up if you have the option.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out of the bomber a deep dark leathery brown of 5W-30 motor oil vescosity only to settle as if its been through the engine much longer and without a filter. That means black to the unmotorized-friendly. A waffer thin, tightly sponged, light cocoa brown head sits atop which fades to a skim always present, lace sticks in ink blot patches.

Smell is subdued but moderately present of dark roasted malts and black malts, quite lusciously so...a light sense of dark fruits favoring raisin, plum, fig, and alcohol warmth mixing in the nose with some chocolate sweetness and coffee notes in there as well.

Taste is quite creamy rich and moderately hefty, but mellowing of dark roasty malts with a slight coffeeness, hops arrive quickly with favorable rich bitterness that fits in quite nicely helping finishing this out with some chocolate twingy tangyness.

Quite a nice easy heavily creamy full body, rich, lusious, and filling, with an incredible lingering chocolate and mild hop bitter drying finish with a bit of alcoholic warmth showing up late taking effect on your head after half the bottle or so.

One excellently done stout in its drinkability, it goes down so wickedly; nearly dangerously smooth and easy for an Imperial Stout its just a knock-down dazzling splendid yummy packed treat that makes you crave every sip after yummy little sip.

Big Thanks to Gusler for the bottle!

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Photo of mikeys01
4.62/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I managed t bring a few bottles of this magnificent imperial stout back to CT from a recent trip to California. These are 22 oz bombers, marked spring 2003 release. Intersting aroma of coffee with slight hint of anise just on opening the bottle. Pours out black as night, nice light brown head, and the amazing aroma just builds more in the glass. This smells like an imperial stout, all right. Very full, complex taste, with the coffee flavor most evident and hints of chocolate most prominent. The alcohol warms the throat on the way own, with a nice sweet aftertaste. All I can say is yummy...

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Photo of zerk
4.37/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at room temperature.

Pours black and completely opaque, with a tan halo of foam encircling the glass. Aroma is a mixture of coffee, roasted malt, and port wine. Flavor begins somewhat sweet with notes of coffee and chocolate, then becomes somewhat vinous, and tannic. The finish has an ample amout of earthy hops. Mouthfeel is smooth and thick... has the consistency of cough syrup.

This is one very wonderful and very big beer.

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Photo of euskera
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big, beautiful 22oz bomber. Late spring 2003 edition. Black as oil, beautiful to behold, with a nice caramel-brown head that dissipates into a head not unlike the "crema" on good italian espresso. Smoky, roasty chocolaty aroma that feels excellent on the nose. Taste is robust and warm, unbelievably delicious and complex. Anise, bitter dark chocolate, roasted espresso and even a little port wine on the finish from the alcohol. I can't wait to see how this tastes after laying it down for a while. My what a masterpiece. The only reason it isn't a 5 all around is that with that alcohol content, one and you're done...

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Photo of avylover
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 "late spring" bottle. Black. Just light gets through it, like oil with 10000 miles on it. Head is brown and fairly small. Scent is overwelming. Dark chocolate, tons of coffee aroma of the starbucks mocha variety, some slight fruitiness underneath all this and a hint of alcohol. The sum of all this ends up smelling like coffee ice cream...Damn!! This is one incredible tasting beer. Starts off with some sweet chocolate then explodes into a huge sweetened coffee flavor. Don't let your 2 year old get ahold of this stuff...they'll love it!! Finishes with a very slight hop bitterness, and the aftertaste is a welcome lingering sweetness, basically as if i'd just put down some coffee ice cream. Alcohol is only evident in the warmth of my belly. Smooth silky mouthfeel and terribly easy to drink. This is one the best ever of any style. Incerdible. BELIEVE THE HYPE..IT'S THAT GOOD!!

Note:Would be all 5s (I can't imagine a better beer) but no straight black beer should get a 5 in appearance IMO.

Edit: 2004 - I just did not enjoy this beer as much this year...maybe just me, or maybe the beer..but it was less creamy and more fruity..not what I like in a stout

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.11/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very strong and young. This is one beer worth setting down for a year or two and then it will be remarkable. Stone has either gotten smarter and is producing more of these special releases or the market is slowing down for them. Last year it was impossible to get this beer, this year it is available at a couple of places.

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

This is the most fantastic beer I have ever had. It was like being reborn into a world of velvet smooth, soft as silk, juicey heaven.

This was jet black. Could not see throught it with mag light next to it. The brown head was so intense you could land a harrier jet on it and not disturb it.

The smell was aromatic and intense and came at you like a charging clydsdale. Coffee and dried fruit.

If there was a drinkable version of a feline jaguar, this would be it. Powerful roasted malt, silky slick on the palate. Soft but prominent hop betterness. No harshness at all.

The mouthfeel was smooth almost sexual. The alcohol was like transparent silk wrapping on the blockbuster body.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.72/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a 22 oz. bottle., 2003 edition The color was oil black (pouring the same consistency) and held a great head. The smell was very sweet. The taste was a malty sweetness, with a taste reminding me of licorice/anise. The mouthfeel was somewhat heavy, but the alcohol was barely noticable even at this ABV. For this high an alcohol, this is certainly quite drinkable, and I could enjoy a couple of these.

For my 50th review, I wanted to choose a great beer, and the 2003 Stone Imperial Stout is about as good as they come! I'll be waiting on future releases of this Imperial Stout with enthusiasm!

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Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.62/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My favorite Stone thus far. As is the case with Speedway and Expedition, there is a rich body and sweet malt profile to balance the bitterness. I love the motor oil appearance, and the rich coffee-like mouthfeel. Certainly stronger and richer than Samuel Smith, but not as balanced or drinkable, IMO. However, I would rate this as good as any other imperial I've had, and if Stone ever becomes available in my area, this would be a regular purchase.

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Photo of Jon
4.63/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This stout pours midnight black. Opaque. As in absolutely no light gets through. A fizzy brown head sits atop the dark liquid, which is a beautiful sight. As the beer breathes for a bit, copious amounts of roasted malt, along with notes of triple-shot espressos, West Coast hops, and alcohol all seek attention from the nose. Taste is incredibly complex, with black currants, incredibly roasty malt, bittering hops, coffee, and alcohol all present. Mouthfeel is very nice and oily, but not overly so. For such a huge offering, this is the most drinkable imperial stout I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. The alcohol content is certainly there, but it never becomes overly prevalent. Overall, this is one exceptional imperial stout.

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Photo of BierReise
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is probably the darkest looking stout I've had. First scent to hit my nose as I uncapped this 22oz bottle was cocoa and espresso. Reminded me of an espresso gelato I once had. Very enticing aromas, from a deep black brew with a thin head resting atop. Chocolate, espresso, intensely roasted malts and hints of alcohol and yeast. Velvety smooth stout, extremely smooth and approachable with a slight dryness at the end. Superbly balanced and pure decadence. This is the best product I've had from Stone brewery. I drank this bottle at approx. 65 degrees.

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Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,412 ratings