Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
Liked This Beer
4.33 w/ 8,381 ratings
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,381 |  Reviews: 2,760
Photo of DESTRO
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

grabbed 3 of the bombers the other day. pours black and thick like motoroil and has a brown/tan head. looks like a manly drink. the smell is wonderful bringing to thought currents, berries, chocolate and roast with a nice hop kick. the taste is, well, intense to say the least. nice hop flavour mixin it up with coffe, chocolate, port, smoke and that nice imperial alcohol spice. this stuff is thick and heavy and extremely creamy and pleasant in the mouth. the drinkability is high for the type of beer, and the high abv really makes itself known after a bit of drinking. top notch brew.

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

I had this awesome beer in a 22oz. bomber poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a thick black with half a finger of reddish-tan head. The head goes away quick, and there is no lacing. The smell is a sweet malty flavor of coffee and spices. The taste is just fabulous. Hints of chocolate and toffee under roasted coffee and caramel. There is just the right amount of hops to balance it all out. The mouthfeel is just awesome, very heavy. This is still a drinkable beer at 9.47%. A really great example of an imperial stout!

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Photo of Mess
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

With a beer that swallows all light, Stone has outdone itself with this fine interpretation of the style. I wondered if I should have dared to be selfish enough to take on the entire 22oz rather than share it with a friend; I perservered through the guilt. Black as the ace of spades, the beer pours thickly and smoothly with a consistency reminiscent of the bottom of a coffee pot lined with spent grounds. Atop sits a fluffy, dark brown head. A whiff of chocolate-coffee sweetness and alcohol are apparent throughout the beer's pint-plus lifespan. A soft-silky mouthfeel encompasses the tongue while yeasty flavors with roast coffee and dark chocolate nourish the senses before the smooth liquid drapes down the back of the throat. This is a delicious treat on its own or for dessert. It kept me warm and filled my belly - enough to where I wished I didn't eat the meal I did before hand! - and would pair perfectly with chunky chocolate chip cookies (which would probably stand straight up in the tasty stuff). Stone's Imperial Stout is an excellent flavorful beer that was easy to put to my lips and yet one that's best to take time with. Can't wait to taste this vintage once it's been cellared for a year.

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

Mmmm—illicit Stone Imperial Stout 2003 vintage... It looks pretty much like I’d have expected—jet black (though a little brown can be teased out around the very top of the pour line) with a VERY brown head of bubbles that lasts about as long as I’d have expected on a beer of this strength and viscosity. Ain’t no Dry Irish Stout… The smell was not quite as expected., though… A huge bouquet of dried, roasted coffee beans mixed with powdered cocoa and smoked, salted jerky to create some very unusual aromatics, even for a beer as necessarily complex as a big Imperial Stout. The murky, viscous body contained the whole range of expected flavors—coffee, charred beef, licorice, port and evil black fruits that have no name. Still, the interesting aspect of this beer to me was the slightly salty, slightly menthol-like aftertaste—is that the roasted barley mingling with the high alpha hops and 9.47% ABV? My chest actually feels hot and cold at the same time—like I’ve drunk Vics soothing chest rub diluted with soy sauce. Luckily the taste isn’t quite so foul ;) “Complex” doesn’t do this one justice any more than “viscous” does. Next to an un-aged Lee’s Harvest Ale (of which I took a hydrometer reading at over 1.040 once) this is the thickest beer I’ve ever consumed. Certainly there’s enough unfermented blackness in my glass to brew a Guinness.

The whole time I drank this beer, I kept having intermittent, incomplete flashbacks to my mother’s kitchen. I don’t know exactly which flavor was taking me back on that Freudian journey, but I have a guess. My mom used to bake a lot pies. The signature of my mother’s handiwork was the little stream of fruit and dough that stuck to the outside pie plate and burned there. I think this beer tastes like chasing that little hunk of carbonized starch with 80 proof port (if there is such a drink).

A monster, indeed. I’m really curious to see how this beer tastes in a year. The flavors are not at all rough or segregated, even at this VERY young age. The beer flows seamlessly from the glass into the mouth, creating a uniform, though thoroughly complex flavor profile. Kudos again to the boys at Stone for not only brewing massive beers, but brewing beers with flavorsome substance too.

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

"Limited Late Spring 2003 Release" - I've been anticipating this one for a very, very long time. Pours darker than black with a brown head that goes away farely quickly. I found myself swirling this viscous liquid around the glass and watching it cling to the sides of glass like Jager. Flavors of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and a hint of spice. This was nice and fresh and should age very well. I tried like hell to sip this one, but it knocked me on my ass anyway. But it was in a good way.

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

Wow! Beautiful aroma, great flavor, everything is exceptional with this beer. Another world class beer from Stone. If you enjoy your Russian Imperial Stouts with more "chocolatey" than "coffee flavor, this one is for you. Originally sampled 24 May 2002

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"Limited Late Spring 2002 Release" - roughly one year old right now. There's been enough said about the specifics of this beer that I'm sure I don't have to start with "Pours as black as night...". I'm not a huge fan of Imperial Stouts, but this one just became one of my all time favorites!

I was quite impressed with the level of maltiness present in the aroma, and the complexity that goes along with it. It's quite cocoa-ish, but also fruity. It has a touch of the "burnt currant" that's so common to the style, but this is more ripe and juicy - and it's the fruitiness that I recognize in the other Stone beers (particularily the pale ale). But it's even more complex than that with some very light citrusy hops and an oak character that really makes it interesting. But surprisingly, it's not that roasty. In fact, overall, it's more of a Baltic Porter. There's a touch of alcohol in the nose as well, but it seems to enhance rather than hinder.

The flavor follows the same routine. It's quite impressive with a rich-but-not-cloying maltiness that delivers buttered brown sugar, cocoa, fresh wort, creamy coffee, ripe raspberry, nuts, dried fruits, sweet bread crust, red wine, and caramel. It's well-balanced by a bitterness that supports, but also hangs in the wings.

Highly recommended!!! Although the alcohol will stop you.... you'll want to drink a few of these!

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Photo of beerluvr
3.43/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2002 version. Pours out with a light tan head that collapses upon black as night opaque liquid. The nose is very plummy/dark fruit-like. Taste is very malty, deep dark and rich, with prune and and malt sweetness dominating. Alcohol soon follows with warming and soothing sensations. The hops are there...just not enough for my taste, I was expecting to taste a bit more with this being a West coast brew. Finishes tangy, more sweet than bitter. Nice, but there's more exciting examples availiable out there.

Thanks to "Gloworm" Gusler for the bottle.

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Photo of pheurton
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

spring 2003 release sampled 01-31-04. inky black with an giant chocolate milk colored foamy head. big nose of soft coco, roasted dark malts, with a touch of espresso. a few sips indicates this is an extremely well crafted brew. extroadinarily rich tastes of milk chocolate, roasted malts, and vinous fruit. it has what i would consider the quintessential imperial stout taste, though i found the body to not be as thick and chewey as i had expected. where this brew shines is in it's full, soft, deeply rich and complex flavor, without coming across as being over the top. superb craftsmanship. i guess to sum it up, i found it to be almost understated, which is not a bad thing, but not what i expected, especially after tasting some of stone's other offerings. a world class imperial. absolutely lovely.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.03/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very black with a low dark brown head and low carbonation but leaves good lace. Roasty malt and chocolate aroma with a good bit of alcohol present. Bitter hoppy aroma (not Cascade-ish). Burnt malt character and very bitter hoppy balanced flavor. Not as citrusy hoppy as Victory's Imperial Stout; just more bitter - not in a good way. Full bodied with an alcohol presence.

Will age my next one to see if it gets better.

Label states: "Limited Late Spring 2002 Release"
Tasted: 04/19/03

(22 oz / )

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Photo of Darkale
4.73/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Arrogant Bastard proved that Stone owns the right to call itself a premier brewer; I thought I would check on their Imperial Stout to see if AB was a fluke.

It's not a fluke.

It truly pours like some kind of lubricant; the reviewers are not kidding. The head is heavy and tasty but not particularly deep nor resilient. Aroma and taste are a strange mix of malty, raisiny, fruity and mildly spicy flavors. Wonderfully chewy, and the sweet fruitiness almost makes it sparkle (as if something that pours like motor oil in Siberia could be said to sparkle!).

Like Arrogant Bastard, Stone's Imperial Stout makes me smile from cap-off until the last line of foam is in my mouth.

I used to think Guiness was a stout.


It's like swallowing Christmas lights during Midnight mass. Wow. What a stout.

For the record, it's March of 2003 as I write this, and the stout was the spring of 2002 version, and apparently has been patiently waiting for me in one of my local beer stores (with no ill effects) for the last several months.

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Photo of stoutlove77
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My first look as I scope its beautiful pour is the thickness that resembles the flow of lava coming off a volcano top. As I pour it in my Stone pint cup (hehe), I can see nothing, what i mean is the shadow it places as I set it next to me on my desktop proves a real deep dark caramel coffee color that gives reason to what is packed in this stout. The smell is rich raisin, deep malt and hints of coffee, Ahhh. The taste is a major kick in the a$$ with full flavor you would want to keep in touch and never let go. Some hints of black cherry and dates are also present. I would slowly savor the combination blast of this wholesome treat that i can see it to be addictive to my stout loving ways. Chances are I would even pour this on my ice cream for that fruitful candy taste. In all this is what I call delicious, maybe this is not the way to describe such a brew, but I can assure this to myself, this is clearly hands down one great Imperial Stout. Stone has got me hooked on this 2002 limited release.

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Photo of philipt
4.79/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! This beer is incredible. I've never found imperial stouts to be anything special, until now. Stone Imperial Stout blew me away! This changes everything...

Pours incredibly black in color. Not much head (which is the reason I gave it lower marks for appearance). The aroma is so complex I don't know where to begin. Malt, bread, chocolate, currant, plus an untold number of other characteristics. Wow, this is a thick, heavy brew! It is malty, bready, lightly sweet in taste. There are also hints of coffee and chocolate. The alcohol is evident and provides a good balance with the sweetness. Too complex in taste to comment on everything.

Just an absolutely incredible ale. I must have more, and soon. Could very well be #1 on my personal list.

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Photo of JISurfer
3.81/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one helluva brew! It is my first experience with an Imperial Stout. Richer than Ted Turner. The color is a super black color, like old motor oil. Had a real thick head on it at first, but then quickley subsided. The head was a real reddish brown color, and started out like an inch thick. The taste is that of dark coffee, some fruits(grapes), and chocolate. Kinda taste like a fruity chocolate espresso, which is kinda wierd to me, but I like it. It starts out smooth and finishes smooth. The only reason I gave it a 3.5 on drinkability, was due to the fact that it was so rich. Give it a shot, you might like it.

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

This beer totally blew my mind! Ok, now that that's out of the way:

This beer is black, and pours with a minimal, but dense brown head. No color can be seen through this beer, it is so ominously dark. This may be to foreshadow the evil effects it will have upon your opinions of other beers. The aroma smacks you hard with chocolate, malt, hops, and some plum fruit. All distinct, but yet one aroma. It's as if this beer transforms it's smell continously to mesmerize it's victims. Upon sipping this silky smooth liquid satin (or is it Satan), intense plum, chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt flavors bind your tastebuds. Assertive but well balanced hops secure the knots as this deliciously evil brew takes you hostage. You are assaulted by such intense flavors that it is impossible to distinguish the beginning of one from the end of another. Now completely given in to the power of this beer, you have no choice but to drink every drop of it, and immediately search out some more. Beer may never be the same. I'm not even sure this was beer. It has a power over me now. I must find more. I must find more. I must find more.......

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

To me this beer is cast and mold for the style. The color is so dark no light can escape it and it sports a deep tan head. Chocolate malt dominates the aroma with a bit of coffee in the background. Chocolate and black malts are front-n-center in the taste with citrusy hops providing balance but utimately being overshadowed by all the malt. This brew exhibits more fruitiness than other imperial stouts I've tried. Roasted barley comes on late but takes a backseat to other flavors. Mouthfeel is thick but not syrupy. Outstanding!

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Photo of aracauna
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Absolutely black opaque with a dark tan head that is about what you expect from the style. Alcohol is stronger on the nose than some of the other imperial stouts. Nice malty aroma with good cherry fruitiness under the alcohol bite. Taste is smooth, creamy. Milk chocolate, slight coffeeish hint with creaminess hints at Kahlua. Anise. Great beer.

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

Wow I don't know what to say, I feel blessed to have a taste of this brew..........Nice burnt chocolate malt,perfect amount of hops. Black Licorice and coffee flavor.Sweet with a great malt balance, One of the best Imperial Stouts I have had I hope I can get some more.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the first (but certainly will not be the last) high-ABV beer I tried since the limit was raised here in Ohio. Quite possibly the prettiest beer I have ever poured. 2/3 oily black evilness under 1/3 beautiful dark brown head. Aroma of dark chocolate and anise. Amazingly rich and complex flavor consisting of coffee, cloves, chocolate, and lots of other stuff I couldn't wrap my brain around. This is not a beer, this is an experience. It is completely engrossing from beginning to end, and left me with a nice buzz to boot.

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

When poured into the glass it flowed into a nice creamy head, not as high as I thought it might but still impressive. The color was a light light brown and it left a lace to match.
The color of the brew was a deep dark brown/mocha color. The flavor of this beer had hints of malt, coffee, chocolate, molassas and some light fruit. The aroma matched the flavor with some smells overtaking the others, depending on temperature, and if it is shaken slightly. A very good stout. I loved it, and wish I had more.

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

Pours an opaque black with an absolutely wonderful light brown head. Roasted mocha aromas rise from the glass and are unmissable. Chocolate and molasses are dominant in the mouth with some coffee and other sweet flavors showing themselves at times. Mouthfeel is absolutely wonderful as it slides down your throat with ease, yet a fair bit of substance. Bitterness is well balanced with the malts, but still gives a good bite. Another amazing beer from Stone.

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Photo of Murph
4.8/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a super black color with a nice creamy brown head that lasts nicely. Big roasty chocolate is huge in the nose, almost a chocolate cake like smell, very nice. Big chocolatey malts jump right out with some more subtle roasted coffee type flavors in the background. The great warming finish has nice dark fruit tones to it that leaves a great amount of flavor lingering on the tongue for a bit. Silky smooth and fairly heavy, this is one great brew. I am going to have to grab a few bottles to cellar as this is one great brew.

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Photo of Wildman
4.95/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2002 Ltd. May Edition: This beer poured as black as the night. It formed a lovely dark tan, foamy head that left some nice circular lace. An aroma of malt, coffee and cherries. A flavor of malt, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit that gave it a slight winey feel to it. A medium body and a slightly bitter/astrigent finish. A great imperial stout.

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

Holy cow! All other stouts, imperial or otherwise, shall henceforth pale in comparison. This is one over the top, take-no-prisoners monster stout. Pushes the envelope on how much flavor can be crammed into a liquid - my tastebuds were overwhelmed and threw in the towel after about four sips. Coffee, molasses, dark chewy malt, you name it, its in there. And did I mention thick? You could just about spread this on toast with a knife. A little sour and astringent at the end, so that it finishes clean enough to invite another quaff. Well done, Stone.

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

2003 vintage:

All I have to say is that collectively, Stone's imperial stout is my favorite of all imperial stouts.

2002 vintage:

Much more hoppy than the 2001, the roasted and caramel malts are both more up-front. Less complexity in the fruitiness. This one definitely benefits from more aging, but this vintage is still absolutely wonderful!

2001 vintage:

This one has been waiting for me since last year. This is the Spring 2001 release, which is labeled as "Stone Imperial Russian Stout". Pours almost like the bottle jokingly suggests, like used motor oil! This is the darkest black I've ever seen in a beer (if varying degrees of darkness in black are even possible. They seem to be, when used in describing beer, so I'll go with that). It just refuses to let light through. Creamy dark brown head, but not much of one. Still leaves some lace. What a delicious aroma! I am thoroughly impressed. Very sweet chocolate, vanilla, coffee cream, even a bit of cherry, along with underlying roasted coffee character. In one word, the aroma says "cream". Makes you want to jump right into tasting this, however, you still can't help but savor the aroma between each sip. On to the palate, very sweet malt with spicy alcohol accompaniment appears first, coating your mouth with a caramel sweetness. Roasted grain and chocolate with some hints of coffee come next. Some of what I'll call "dark fruit" flavor as well, including more cherry character. Hops don't come around much, which surprises me, this having come from Stone. This could be due to the aging. Of course, that's not at all a bad thing! As I expected, a very creamy mouthfeel. What an experience this beer is! Definitely a must-try for anyone who can get it! Great one to cellar, too.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 95.2% out of 100 with 8,381 ratings
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