Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

2,743 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

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Reviews: 2,743 | Ratings: 8,339
Photo of stoutlove77
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
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 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
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber, 2006 version. Purchased from Lee's Discount Liquors in Vegas.

Poured an opaque, viscous liquid. Looked like motor oil after about 100,000 miles. Small brown head which faded rather quickly. Nice legs after a swirl.

Aroma was raisins & plums, faint herbal hops, licorice and a little whiff of alcohol.

Taste was roasted grain, coffee, dark chocolate. Hop bitterness at the finish was complimented by a lingering coffee taste. A bit sweet to begin with, more of what started in the aroma - raisins and plums. Alcohol was there, but quite well hidden.

Body was thick and chewy, with very low carbonation. Sweetish finish, but it was also a little drying, if that makes any sense.

Overall, my review cannot do this beer justice. Very complex and incredible. I look forward to my next one. I strongly encourage a slow drink, because the flavor profile changes quite a bit across the temperature spectrum.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Summer 2005 release. Pours a thick consistency, blacker than black, and totally opaque. Light brown head is dense and creamy, and reaches a full fist in hieght. The retention is excellent, holds a tight half-inch cap, but leaves only weak patchy lacing. Vinous dark fruit nose, with hints of bakers chocolate and cascade hops. The taste is boldy sweet at first, chocolate malt and roasted barley. Some fusel notes are perceived as it warms, but a dry, american hop bite in the aftertaste keep the ABV and sweetness in check. Finish is dry, but leaves some traces of fig/plum and a slight alcohol smack. The full body and flat carbonation lend an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel and combine with the well-rounded flavor to allow a high drinkability. Magnificent.

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Photo of Brad007
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 release

Color: Pours a thick, motor oil color with a thin brown head. You can't see through this one.

Aroma: Chocolate and coffee in the nose along with hops. Smooth. As it warms up, more flavors come out.

Taste: Smooth and caramel-ish upfront with a very nice chocolate bite and roastiness in the middle. Bitter coffee and dark fruits come to mind as well.

Mouthfeel: Roasty and bitter like coffee with a decent amount of chocolate in the mouthfeel. Tastes well balanced.

Drinkability: Very drinkable and you wouldn't be able to tell that it's 10.8%. Deceptive. It's also well-balanced and a decent sipper. If you're looking for a decent imperial stout, you can't go wrong with this. I do wish there was more creaminess to it but otherwise, it's great.

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Photo of markgugs
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage. 22oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass (consumed: 2/14/08)

A: Pours a thick, viscous dark brown with an equally dark brown 1-finger head. Holding it up to the light reveals some ruby colors around the beers edges; it even sparkles a bit after the initial pour. Phenomenal looking.

S: An almost-overwhelming rich, intoxicating bouquet of chocolate and roasted malts, backed up by even more cocoa, with the slightest hints of a floral hoppiness left.

T/M: Amazing. I cannot believe this is the same beer I had back in April when it was fresh, it's an entirely new beer already. It's *very* rich, a dessert chocolate mousse is the closest flavor I would describe this to be. As it warms, even more bittersweet cocoa comes out, as well as luscious dark cherries dripping in sinfully palate-watering juices. The beer doesn't so much as coat your mouth as it does vanquish anything else that's in there, with an oatmeal-like oil slick quality. Exxon Valdez has nothing on this beer.

D: Far, far too easy to drink for a beer that's over 10% ABV. I kept reaching for another sip, it was very difficult to let this warm properly as it was deliciously potable from the get-go. Highly, highly recommended.

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Photo of raoulduke37
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Before this, I had only ever had the Arrogant Bastard from Stone, and that one wasn't what I consider to be "world class." This beer, however, may just qualify for that. I was amazed to get such an amazing taste and mouthfeel from a bottled stout. Many times, stouts are best suited to be poured only from the tap (like Guinness). The appearance is a beautiful black with red highlights around the rim of the glass. Beautiful brown head does not stick around, however. Taste and mouthfeel are freaking heavenly. Taste of prunes, pork fat (no joke), initially, and then chocolate all the way down. God damn it's a beauty. I can see why this is on so many want lists. I feel extremely lucky to have this readily available in CA. This is one I would stand for in the face of opposition.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I think it's my fault - but I simply couldn't get a thick or lasting head in my Stone Imperial Stout glass (couldn't help buying it). What bit I did get was a dark tan that lasted about two seconds. the appearance of the beer otherwise is phenomenal, absolutely the darkest beer I've seen. Zero light gets through. Very sticky, a good swirl leaves a lasting brown sheen on the surface of the glass.

Smell is of nuts and baker's chocolate, with lots of spice zing and a whiff of fruit or citrus. Complex and hard to describe.

Taste is exceptional. So many things going on I can barely describe them. Oily, fruity, cloves, chocolate, coffee. There's a definite alcohol warmth but it's merely the nail in the coffin, sealing it all up. This stuff is GOOD. Taste buds I didn't know I had are standing to attention and rendering a proper salute.

Mouthfeel is similarly wonderful; Carbonation is thin, a few small and tight bubbles that are disinclined to rise, but the beer is so chewy and sticky it's like drinking a heavy wine. You know you're drinking an honest stout.

This beer is quite drinkable for its style; The alcohol content is high but masked by so many other good qualities no faults can be given (as if I'd fault high alcohol content).

This was the last bottle in the store and I'm glad I got it, and its matching glass too. If you see a bottle, snatch it up.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Limited Spring 2007 Release / 22 oz bomber

A - Black as night with a brown head that settles to a thin layer, no real lacing, but this is a stout.

S - Aroma of dark roasted coffee and black currant.

T - WOW! This is an exceptionally tasty stout. The best I've had this season. Roasted flavor, 10.8% abv is very well hidden in the taste.

M - Thick and creamy, mild carbonation, goes down smooth and easy.

D - I said you couldn't taste the alcohol, but damn, you will sure feel it. Drinkability is still a little better than 'good'.

Overall this is a very fine example of the style and like I said before, it's the best Imperial Stout I've had from this year's offerings.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
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 daledeee
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's tough at the top. The differences are sometimes only slightly discernable. A recent trip to the Chicago area afforded me a chance to try the Stone Imperial.

A 22 oz bottle. It took me an hour to relish the rarified brew.

It poured a beautiful black, and I mean BLACK. The head was nice with a tawny color. At the end of the pour the last drops of the brew danced across the head defying gravity. I knew then this would be a magical experience.

The aroma is unbelievable. Coffee and chocolate with malt. This is the best smelling beer I have ever enjoyed.

The flavor of this drink is worth savoring for as much time as you have. It is so well balanced and tasty that you will want one every day. The flavors burst free when they hit the palate. A perfect balance of chocolate, malt, coffee and hops. The aftertaste is just as fulfilling. A little more bitter at the end.

I have only given a few 5's across the board. There are a few categories for this brew that deserve 5+. So enjoyable, so drinkable. And yes, a good buzz. Nice high alcohol content.

NOTE: A few years since the first review. I have since tried many imperial stouts. This one came across as a little dry and not as dynamic as I first thought.

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Photo of JonMich13
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage on tap at the Flying Saucer Charlotte.

A = Cute waitress in typical school girl outfit brought this jet black artwork to my table. A sexy girl indeed, but the beer in her hand was sexier. Pure black with a tiny dark brown head. Little speckles of even darker brown percolated while drinking or swirling. Web like lacing down the glass.

S = Dominant sweet chocolate notes with some roasted maltiness and coffee there as well. Some hints of dark fruit maybe as well.

T = Absolutely wonderful taste, that evolved as it warmed. A myriad of complex chocolate, coffee, malt, hop, dark fruit, rum like syrupy sweetness. A warming alcohol slowly evolved down the glass. This is one seriously delicious brew. The 2 year cellar did it real good.

M = Aside from taste, the other truly great aspect of this one. Creamy is the first adjective that came to mind. Just smooth and silky as it went down. Thick, but not as hugely thick as some others. Almost perfect in this regard.

D = Very, very drinkable for all that's going on here. I really wanted another immediately.

I feel privileged to have had this vintage on tap. I will seek out the fresh version and any other vintages I can obtain to compare. They have a tall task to match this brew.

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Photo of Ljunkan
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black color with a brown head. It dissapears quite quick. Some lacing.

Smell is roasted malt, chocolate, toffee and coffee.

Taste is quite sweet first. Notes of dark chocolate, lots of coffee, toffee, almost Riesen. Some hops in the background but they are not that prominent as I expected. On the other hand that's only good according to me. Ends with a great bitterness. Much more balaced than other american imp. stouts I've had lately. Wonderful taste! Too drink this is like letting some chocolate toffee melt in your mouth, and even better! Aah.

Wonderful and filling in the mouth. Very creamy, quite thick, a bit sticky, but at the same time smooth. Wonderful and fantastic.

This is defintely a very nice sipper. Despite the 90+ IBU:s (?) it feels very balanced. Not too bitter, but not too sweet either. This is how I want to have my imperial stout! Fantastic! Very tasty! I'm really happy now.

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Photo of Neorebel
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fantastic thick oily black look to this one, topped with a nice fluffy tan head. There is proper lacing going on later as I drink the beer down. As for the aroma, I am primarily enjoying dark fruit esters such as raisin & fig. The taste is smooth and sublime... very balanced between the dominant aforementioned dark fruits, molasses, toasted malt, and even a faint hopped flavor that edges its way in. The mouth feel and alcohol heat are just right, not too heavy like you may assume. Pleasantly dry finish that leaves you thirsting for more... Overall a practically perfect RIS!

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Photo of k3n
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bomber, 2007 vintage

A: Pours thick and black into my pint glass, with an inch of tightly packed bubbles. The head fades down to a thin layer, leaves nice lacing all over the glass.

S: Fruity, estery, a bit of alcohol heat.

T: As Emeril says, "Bam!" Even the smallest sip just fills the mouth with a cacaphony of flavors. Sip this one to get the most mileage out of it! It's like a chocolate shake beer! Tons of chocolate and vanilla, figgy dark fruit flavors, and a bit of drying hop bitterness in the end, but the bitterness doesn't stop the beer from lingering long after it's swallowed. Wow.

M: Full. Thick. Wonderful.

D: o.m.g. yes.

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Photo of Crotor
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I live for beers like this.

Pours thick and black into my tulip glass. It looks so thick it reminds me of how they use Elmer's-type glue in milk commercials to achieve those thick, ropey pours. This looks like black Elmers glue... As it settles in the glass, a dense, dark brown head rises, and sticks around for quite a while - surprising retention for a beer this big. I like that...

The aroma is big and roasty, with a bit of caremel going on in the back. Good, but not great. Really the only failing is that the aroma is unimpressive when compared to the beer's other aspects.

As I finally drink, there's a massive assault of roasty, chocolatey, espressoey goodness on my tongue. Behind it all there's just a hint of fruit (plum/raisinish). A hint of alcohol is evident, but i's not at all unpleasant. Other characteristics are a reseved bit of sweetness, and perhaps a little mustiness. Overall, the massive yet rounded taste profile is excellently articulated. How can a beer so big and so extreme also be so subtle? It's masterful...

This is without a doubt, the best, and most drinkable RIS I've ever had the pleasure to encounter.

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Photo of beerandsandals
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stone was gracious enough to pour growler fills of their 2006 vintage of IRS and boy did you know I was going to be there. Stone's IRS is always a must get and living only minutes from the brewery ensure my cellar is going to be chock-full of this specialty. It pours like motor oil, thick and black, the nose isn't as apparent as the 2009 version but definite chocolate and coffee tones jump right out. Mouth is GREAT! Due to the age some carbonation was lost but I thought it made for a smoother stout feel and as it warmed more coffee and smooth silky chocolate came out. This beer is a great and will remain on the top of my favs list for quite some time.

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Photo of illidurit
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage poured into a pint glass. The beer is murky and black; the carbonation struggles to make its way to the top where it crests as a beautiful tan froth of a bit less than an inch.

Immediately my nose is pummeled with scents of chocolate and coffee, as well as a subtle alcohol sharpness.

The balance in this beer's taste is impeccable; like eating a chocolate-covered coffee bean it starts out sweet and then melds seamlessly into a slightly bitter roasty flavor. Booziness makes an appearance as the beer warms.

The mouthfeel here is just exceptional. Full bodied with just enough carbonation to prevent it from being cloying. Ridiculously smooth.

Drinkability is phenomenal.

Absolutely lives up to the hype and my expectations. Superb.

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Photo of sockeye101
4.76/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Holy glass of black perfection....thick, smooth, an absolute masterpiece. This beer is a rare find. I just about cracked open my bottle of Old Guardian that I'm cellaring becuase I just needed a 'kick you in the ass and leave you for dead' kind of brew. But luckily I got ahold of a Russian Stout. The pour was slow and deliberate and it oozed out thickly to produce a nice head of tans and light browns, the glass completely impenetrable by light. I held the glass up in direct sunlight, and failed to see the sun on the other fitting for this beer, so complex and complete it can block out the sun. I let the stout sit for several minutes to warm ever so slightly and took a whiff. Coffee, chocolates, a bit of an earthy tone and the flavors of heavily roasted malts. I prepared myself for liftoff, raised my glass and took a sip. Outstanding. Rich, smooth, thick, the mouthfeel was exceptional. Flavors of coffee, roasted fruits, alcohol, and malts. It is right up there with Old Guardian as one of my most favorite beers in the "Good God, how in the hell can this be over 10%abv" category. Sip, savor, enjoy, and respect the black.

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Photo of Motleydrunk56
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is what a stout should be all about.So many flavors in this stout blended together to make a true masterpiece.Kind of a creamy feel to it.This is indeed a heavy hitter.At 10.6 ABV it will get the job done.Just make sure you have a designated driver if your going to be getting into these bad boys.Love slamming this beer out on the Porch while i`m listening to a little Motley Crue.Too date this is the best Stout I have ever tasted.No B.S,try it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
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 ZiggyStarbuck
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Almost pitch black with ruby highlights. Dark tan head that quickly settled leaving decent lace.

Smell: Coffee, chocolate, anise, raisins.

Taste: Tastes like coffee chocolate, some slight alcohol tones in there as well along with some subtle raisin like flavors.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick, but not syrupy. Slightly carbonated. Feels great.

I could drink 2 or 3 of these in one sitting, no problem. Excellent beer.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pitch black and opaque, no light passing through this beast. The head is very slight and a cinnamon color. It dissipates quicking except for the outer edge. The lacing paces the beer by about 1/2 inch.

What a smell. I popped the cap on this and let it breathe for a minute while I rinsed out my favorite drinking glass. I could literally smell the roasted malt and coffee scents from 6 feet away, and strong. Once poured it really opened up and released strong scents of molasses and dark fruit which I perceived to be blackberry (but after reading the bottle realized it is in fact currant.)

The taste is equally complex and distinct. The nose is unmistakably currant and roasted malt. After the swallow is where this really shines. There is a brief period where this tastes like a dry red wine (or maybe a port,) then that gives way to dark chocolates, espresso, vanilla, caramel, and a slight hop bitterness. The final aftertaste resembles black licorice.

Top notch mouthfeel. Very thick viscosity with just the perfect amount of carbonation. The finish also resembles that of a dry red wine, slightly astringent with detectable tannins. The alcohol makes its presence known, but not as much as I expected with the abv. It actually adds a very classy touch to the overall experience.

I gave this bonus points in drinkability mainly due to the complexity of the flavor and mouthfeel. It would be hard to consume more than a bomber on my own in one sitting, but it is just so enjoyable I finished it wanting more. Compared to other extremely viscous stouts, this doesn't sit rock heavy in the stomach or come across too sweet. In contrast, the dryness seems to make it more drinkable.

This is a world class RIS and I can honestly say this is bar far and away the best I've ever had. Stone advertises this is a great stout to age, and I could definitely see that being the case. If ever given the chance (not sold in IL and I have limited access to Stone brews) I would definitely purchase a few to age.

Note: 2009 batch

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 on nitro, poured at the Barley Oak.

A - Pour is pitch black, as expected. Head was frothy, and creamy, about 1 finger and a half, with great retention.

S - Coffee, chocolate, loads of roasted notes, some char, and some resiny, piny hops.

T - Chocolate, dark chocolate, bittersweet, roasted, toasted, burnt, sweetness, some anise, and only a hint of hops.

M - Thick and chewy, as usually. Sits very heavy on the palate, and thins out any other beer had after it.

D/O - Booze is trumped by all the wonderful flavors, and it's dangerously drinkable. This has always been my favorite RIS, and this years may even be better...

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Photo of sjccmd
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spring 09 release

The beer gloops into the glass menacingly dark brown, essentially black. Once in the glass it's all black, even with light shining on it. Dark tan head that erupts slowly and recedes.

Very rich smell. Dark and creamy milk chocolate, with coffee. Toffee and some interesting spiciness I can't quite describe. Smells like dessert.

After the exciting smell, the taste does not disappoint. Bitter dark chocolate, French roasted coffee, it's initially sweet but finishes with a nice bitter espresso finish.

the mouthfeel is pretty interesting. It's full, rich, and thick, but it is also well carbonated. Maybe I would like it less carbonated...but it does help with the drinkability

even on a pretty full stomach this beer is pretty hard to put down, it's very rich but it's not sickly i said, the carbonation might be slightly high, it seems to make it easier to drink

Overall, this is an excellent beer. I feel like I need to be drinking this for some momentous occasion. I honestly feel like I'm dishonoring the beer by simply enjoying it as an after dinner treat.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,339 ratings.
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