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Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
8,398 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 8,398 |  Reviews: 2,764
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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Photo of marc77
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The virtually jet black hued and opaque brew is topped by a dense, thick, rocky, light brown head that quickly recedes into a thin layer. Sparse lace is left. The highly appetizing aroma is comprised of oaky woodiness, carob, dark chocolate, deeply caramelized dark fruit... roasted grains coupled w/ esters and subtle citrusy hops have had a synergistic effect on the aroma... the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The rich malt profile is dominated by buttery dark chocolate and sugar coated nuttiness, with roasted barley bitterness lending a bittersweet undertone. Hop bitterness, although secondary, sufficiently balances the residual sweetness, leaving the deeply chocolately malt character intact. Full bodied w/ a highly dextrinous and viscous mouthfeel. Finishes w/ a hint of spicy alcohol and with more mellow dark chocolate lingering. Soothing alcohol warmth emerges after a seemingly long deliberation. Stone Imperial Stout is a tremendously flavorful and rich brew. I only wish I had waited until a cold winter night before drinking this fine beer.

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Photo of ZAP
4.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

These F'ers have the best smelling beers around...INCREDIBLE aroma...more of sweetness than dryness...Jet black...very small lace....some cocoa and coffee emerging on nose..."Sweet" is the first impression on the buds...not much in the way of bittering..very nice sweet flavor...easy drinking for an imperial...a bit more hopping would be nice but a very enjoyable imperial...I have several other reviews of Stone Beer on paper that I will be entering tonight, and this could very well be the best brewery in the USA.

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Photo of Jason
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber, “Limited Spring 2002 Release” on the label gives you an idea of freshness … not that it matters being that this brew is a towering 9.47% abv.

Appearance: Big pillowing foamy tan head is slow to form as the bubbles of carbonation struggle to the top of this thick crude oil black brew. The head does dissipate but the there is a lace that sticks around for the show.

Smell: The aroma is full of highly roasted coffee (French Roast), fruity esters (dried black currants), slight molasses, mild char, and vague solvent alcohol and lost of roasted grain.

Taste: Nearly syrupy from a huge malty body, carbonation is at a medium crispness with an extremely viscous mouth feel. First the flavours go sweet with maltiness are fruity flavours of black currant and prune. Malt sweetness upfront is more of a mild molasses with a deep following of roasted grain and a chocolaty backing that sticks around until the finish. Hop are thrown in for good measure but don’t seem to get in the way too much. Alcohol flexes quick with a faint solvent flavour as well as the fruitiness providing some esters for more complexity. A smoothness creeps in out of nowhere and pulls the flavours in further which saturates the taste buds. Deep within, after the brew warms up a bit there is a dark caramel flavour that sits next to beer heaven. After the initial wave of flavour there seems to be a Zen of balance as all of the flavours meld together in perfect formation. The roasted grain lingers with an endless trail cleaning up all other flavours in its wake.

Notes: Devastatingly flavourful, highly drinkable and very deceiving for a brew at 9.47% abv. This beer shows-off Stone Brewing’s prowess to take a style a bring it to a greater level than others.

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

Spring 2002 release. Mine had little head, which faded quickly, leaving only a glass full of beautiful, magical blackness. It has a terrific fruity sweetness without the pronounced roasty flavors of some other imperials. Chocolate flavor becomes more noticeable as it warms. The hops are just enough to balance the sweetness and keep it from overwhelming this beer. This one's got me thinking about moving south to San Marcos to be closer to the brewery.

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

Thick, quickly dissipating tan head. Glassy black color, the darkest I think I have ever seen. Aroma is sadly nothing special compared to the hype. Strong chocolate malt aroma mixed with alcohol, figgish sweet fruit and alcohol. Toasted wafer flavor, well-balanced between malt, alcohol and hops. It took me several hours to drink it, which is impressive. The flavor changed but sustained throughout. A very tasty imperial but I still prefer Brooklyns.

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Photo of mattmaples
4.94/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mine didn't have as big of a head as I thought it should. The big dark raostyness was very enjoyable, it had an appropriate dryness (some imperials end to be too sweet for the style) and a nice alcohol presence. Excelent Imperial,side by side with North Coast and only to be out done by Havey and Son

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 8,398 ratings
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