Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

2,749 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: 2,749 | Ratings: 8,353
Photo of muskabeatz
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Spring 2009 Release, 22 ounce bomber.

A- Pours extremely thick. Pitch black with a thick, brown, two-finger head that dissipates a bit quickly. Does leave a nice lacing on the glass, however.

S- Big bold aroma filled with rich malt sweetness, roasted malts, some dark fruit, and a bit of alcohol.

T- Once again, huge and aggressive. Big sweetness up front, with a bit of a caramel/molasses twinge. Gives way to the presence of dark cherries, with some roasted malt/coffee flavor coming through as well. Alcohol is very mild as far as taste goes, especially for how much is in the brew. One does notice the warming feeling that the alcohol provides.

M- Nice subtle wave of carbonation. Thick and a bit creamy, but still very smooth; nothing overkill in my opinion.

D- Definitely a sipper of a beer. Taste, mouthfeel, and virtually everything about this beer is excellent, but I can really only take so much of it. This is a big beer that deserves respect.

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Photo of iD9
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in my awesome Cal Poly glass stein.

Appearance: Medium-dark tan head. From the appearance I would have thought it would diminish quickly but its sticking around incredibly well. Completely opaque in every dimension. Just the slightest sliver of reddish, chestnut brown dances around the bottom edge of the glass. Good stuff.

Smell: Deep roasted malts, dark coffees, chocolatey goodness (and maybe just a hint of boozey bourbon?). Although not unique from other RIS I've had it is exceptionally well balanced and smells excellent. Can't wait to get started.

Taste: "Yum" is really the only word I have for this brew. Very good in all measures and expertly balanced. My only qualm with this beer (and its almost not worth mentioning) is that it is nothing terribly unique. This beer is, in every way, a paragon of the RIS style. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Deep, smooth and creamy yet not overly heavy. The only way I can describe this beer is that it is a textual pleasure to drink as well as a tasty one.

Drinkablity: In situations like this, I can only assume that (should the beer gods ever grace us with their penultimate brew) there is or will be a beer with better drinkability at some undetermined moment in the future. As such I would like to give this beer a 4.895 but I'll settle for the 4.5 since giving out 5.0s frightens me.

Overall, an exceptional brew. I have never been a big fan of Stone brewery. This Stone Imperial Russian Stout (not to be confused with a Russian Imperial Stout mind you) has changed the way I view their craft. Well played Stone... well played...

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Photo of The3rdbeer
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle: Poured as usual in my Bruery Tulip 2 and a half fingers of dark moca head, the darkest I've seen on a beer yet!

A- Dark as ever, with a beautiful head that lasts for a less than a minute to leave with a foamy lacing that layers on the glass after each sip.

S- Roasted Malt! once swirled you get some hops, some smoke maybe a little bacon, some dark chocolate almost coffee notes, just burnt dark resin.

T- The taste starts with a hint of hoppy bitterness and a fore ground of roasted malt, it rolls down the tongue to splash at the throat to reveal booze and that malty coating, leaving a after taste of burnt brown sugar, dark chocolate, maybe some coffee, no smoke in the flavor unfortunately.

M- Not the mouth feel I would like, I want it thicker, but its not bad just lacking in my opinion, medium mouth feel that coats the mouth, it has a lite carbonation but its fitting.

O- Amazing beer, I'm tasting the Anise Belgo RIS tomorrow and I'm thrilled with the new bottle design on the 2011 and on the flavor as usual, exciting to compair the two, want to blend with a Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast. Gonna buy much more of this to store!


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Photo of PaleZombie
4.71/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Finally got my hands on a couple bottles of this!

A - It pours a deep black brown with a nice tan head. Excellent lacing.

S - Deep roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, dark fruits(raisins and plums). This is the definition of what a RIS should smell like in my book.

T - First you are hit with sweet chocolate malts at the front followed by the dark fruits with a slight deep cherry bitter sweetness. In the finish you get some nice bitter coffee notes and a mild bitter chocolate note. Amazingly complex!

M - Very heavy and thick, almost a sticky syrupy texture however extremely smooth and very drinkable.

O - This is probably one of the best beers I have ever had. It is so complex however extremely smooth and drinkable. Almost no alcohol is present and this is a fresh bottle. Awesome job Stone!

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Photo of BrewMan13
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Oh my, when I saw this at my local beverage center for the 1st time, I snapped up 3 bombers on reputation alone, never having tasted it before. And am I glad I did!
Nice blacker than midnight appearance. Head is very dark brown and recedes slowly. Some lacing. A small amount remains for most of the drink.
Taste is very intense. I cant describe the flavors as well as some others have, but I pick up on heavy chocolate malts initially, some roasted malts midway through. Both flavors seem to continue and are accompanied by a slight alcohol flavor at the end of the finish, along with a hint of hops. Everything is so intense and complex, I know I am missing something. Just try it and taste for yourself.
I feel that a great IRS should have a flavor so intense that it drowns your tastebuds and leave them gasping for air by the end. This one follows that exceptionally well. While it may not be sessionable, I've been craving my 2nd since I had my 1st, a very fine accomplishment, which is why the drinkability score is so high.
I think that the fact that a beverage this dark, flavorful and complex and another beverage so light and flavorless as Coors light are both "beer" (I use the term loosely in regards to coors light) is proof enough that there is more variety of flavors in beer then wine.

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Photo of Tomas77
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance-Deep brown almost black. Opaque. Small but thick creamy tan foam capping the beer underneath. Nice lace.
Aroma-Roasted coffee and chocolate followed by dark fruit and alcohol. Very complex.
Flavor-Dark fruit more closer to the front along with rich, sweet malt of roasted coffee(almost burnt, maybe tarry) with dark cherries and vanilla in there as well. Alcohol is evident throughout but is not hot. Nice balance between malt and hop. Hop bitterness in the finish but does not linger. Subdued roast bitterness in the finish also.
Mouthfeel-Full body. Chewy. Velvety feeling coats the tongue. Strong but smooth alcohol warmth. Medium carbonation. Dry finish.

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Photo of FacistCannonBall
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice, really nice. Definite charred, roasted notes on the taste with cocoa and even French roast coffee making an appearance. The appearance is dark, opaque and alluring. Alcohol carries a punch; not so much in the taste (though it does have the warmth) but in the affects on the brain. Definitely a beer that is drinkable but probable safe in single 22 oz. servings.

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Photo of DackAchan
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours dark, with a thin layer of a mocha head. No lacing.

S- Good smell. Lots of complex aromas, dates, and chocolate the primary smells.

T- Excellent taste. Starts sweet with a nice rich chocolate flavor, flowing well into a strong date/raisin flavor. Finishes nicely with a touch of bitterness on the back end. Overall very well rounded.

M- Heavy body, nothing harsh about this beer. Feels good.

D- Good drinkablitly for a RIS. Alcohol isn't overpowering so it is pleasant the whole session.

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Photo of TrippnFiasco
4.82/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into Dogfish Head snifter.

A: One-finger head is a nice, caramel-y dark tan color. Beer looks like oil or tar being poured into the glass. Zero light gets through this one. Gorgeous!

S: A bit of alcohol comes through on the nose, but it is balanced well with the smell of bitter chocolate and espresso. There is a very nice caramel maltiness to the aroma as well. Fantastic.

T: WOW, this is phenomenal. Dark, slightly bitter chocolate comes through and melds perfectly with the mild coffee and roasted malt flavor.

M: Interesting, the mouthfeel does not match the appearance of the beer. Not as heavy as I expected and leaning much closer to medium-bodied. Carbonation suits it perfectly.

D: Very drinkable considering the ABV and nature of the beer.

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Photo of voteforgoat
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 IRS drinking it in 2010, split.

A- dark dark, small tan head. mild carbonation

S - hops, malt, roast, coffeeish, some other stuff too!

T - oooh yeah! very nice. roast and coffee taste upfront. very hoppy. Smoother, less hot than the 2010 I recently had, and with a fuller body. Great sipping beer. Seems to reveal other dimensions as you imbibe the drink over time. As it warms up, it sweetens. Cannot taste the alcohol - it's very, very well hidden. Beware!

M- good, enjoyable, feels thicker than other stouts I've had.

D - very big, bold flavor. would not want to drink this all night. One or two small glasses would be fine. This also packs a wallop in terms of alcohol. Wow, after 8 oz of this beer, I'm feeling the buzz and have not detected any alcohol.

Stouts ( and their bigger imperial cousins) is one the styles I rarely pick up, but I might be more inclined now.
Imperial russian stouts and american barley wines seem to share some attributes: bold, strong hop flavors , big malts ( more so with stouts) and thick mouthfeel . this is from my overall still limited experience with stouts. Quite enjoyable, but the strong, roasty flavors probably hold me back from enjoying stouts as often as barley wines. I don't seek it out roasty flavors..but again, I think this might require some "studying".

I feel there's a difference between the 2010 and 2008 ( the older beer clearly winning out) though I am not drinking both side to side. Again, study is required.

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Photo of jdflyer06
4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz into a snifter

A: Deep black, "None more black" as Spinal Tap would say. Thick and rich head that leaves a small bit of lacing throughout but doesn't actually stick around.

S: Sweet, chocolate, some cinnamon notes. Slight floral hop aroma and plenty of roasted malt. Alcohol presents itself nicely but takes a backseat.

M: Dry, carbonated and fairly light on the palate. Not as rich as I would have thought although it thickens as it warms. Nice alcohol warmth on the back end. Not sure I'm wild about all of the carbonation. Finishes pretty clean

T: Strong espresso and chocolate flavors followed by burnt malt and a strong roastiness. Some good amount of hop bitterness and alcohol finish it out.

D: Pretty drinkable for the style, although I like my stouts a little creamier and without the heavy carbonation this one presents. Still pretty good, but leaves me longing for more.

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Photo of rokoch27
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can't find this spring/summer (2006) release, but did pick up the "Limited Early Summer 2005 Release" at the store. I won't say too much due to the wealth of reviews below.

One year old at opening. Pours dark and thick like black oil. Slight brown head. Smells like a mildly sweet, black forest cake. Soft hint of fruit in the background. Be prepared to taste a little bit of alcohol, but then savor the creamy, balanced elixir. Strong malt to chew on and a subtle hop on the back end. This isn't is my dinner and dessert. I've got the same advice as everyone else: buy some to keep and open in front of a warm file a few years down the road. Who needs oak aging barrels when you've got Stone?

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Photo of al3
4.51/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - No sunshine, poured it high and got a nice cascade effect, some lacing.

S - roasty, coffee, chocolate.

T&M - Sweet upfront with chocolate, caramel, molasses, with a silky feel. A coffee, roasty flavor, with a peppery alcohol bite on the finish.

D - The case recommendation printed on the bottle is a good idea..

Overall a great beer I will be buying again. The flavor was spot on. Very well balanced and a easy drinker. I think the feel will get better with age, it was a bit harsh on the finish. Let this warm up a bit if outta the fridge. My favorite Stone so far..

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Photo of shortbus7
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served into a pint glass from a 22oz bottle.

A: This beer is pitch black with a mocha/khaki colored head. This beer lets no light through.

S: This smells fantastic. So much going on. Some chocolate, malted barley, molases, coffee, and some minor hints of some dark fruits.

T: Coffee and chocolate are the front runners here. Not strong or overpowering, but just right. Dark malt is there and just the right amount of bitterness. Very well balanced.

M: This beer is very smooth and creamy.

O: A very good beer for being such highly produced. Worth every penny.

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Photo of imblane
4.87/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(2004 Edition) Just like the label says, "Pours like Siberian Crude" Black as the Ace of Spades, dark as midnight, literally a black hole in my Stone IRS glass. Pours with a nice two finger head, much like a good quality shot of espresso, but dissipates quickly with minimal lacing. Smell is black currants, dark chocolate, anise and finishes with a medium alcohol, simply marvelous! Taste is smooth toasty malt, prunes, espresso and raisins, with a warming alcohol bite and a mild acidity. Thick, creamy, belly warming good!! I am cellaring an entire case for this winter. This is a huge complex IRS that makes me feel truly "Not Worthy"

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Photo of dalion037
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

***I have been drinking this stout since 2004. I have a few 2006 and 2007 bottles still in the beer cellar for a future date. I just bought the 2008 which was just released this past week. I don't care what people are saying about Dark Lord or The Abyss. The Stone RIS is the BEST RIS on the market. People are willing to say that something taste better if they think it is rare and hard to get just to brag about drink the best beer on the market but this beer is just as good, no, better than either of the other two. Find a 2006 or 2007 and have a glass and decide for yourself. If you have to, drink a fresh 2008 and see what I mean. Then you too will age a few bottle for years to come.

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Photo of CpnYates
3.74/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I guess I had read to many reviews before opening this beer, because my expectations were waay over the top for this thing.

It's not that this is a bad beer, or even an average beer. This is a GREAT stout. I get Old Rasputin a lot locally but this Stone is much harder to find. The problem is, I was expecting world class and it just wasn't there. There is coffee, malt, brown sugar, chocolate. Its just not the overpowering nose present I was expecting.

The taste is good, not great with much of the smell being tasted in direct proportioned amounts. There is more alcohol on the initial sip than excpected.

The mouth feel is where this beer really shines. Outstanding subtle carbonation blends with the sticky sweet resin that coats the mouth. You taste this beer for thirty seconds after your last sip.

Overall I enjoyed this beer. But I didn't LOVE it, as I expected to after reading the reviews. The others are going into the basement to mellow a while.

BTW this was the Spring 08 version.

The beer looked great when I poured it but my first hint that this wasn't going to live up to the hype was in the nose.

Still thouroughly enjoyable.

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Photo of beerfan99
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2008
22oz bottle consumed on 5/15/2011

A: Pours pitch black and appears to be quite thick. Carbonation creates a very appealing dark brown head that lasts for several minutes before dissipating.

S: Roasted malts and dark chocolate aromas. After several smells, I am very anxious to get to the tasting.

T: Exactly what the smell predicted, roasted malt sugars and dark chocolate. Very well balanced, alcohol is hidden extremely well.

M: Thick and very pleasant. Carbonation is just right and finishes smooth.

O: An excellent Russian Imperial Stout, definitely one of my favorites. I think the 3-year old SRIS aged very well, too bad I don't have another one.

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Photo of rebelthrower
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. First thought about this beer from the second I poured this.

A - Very dark brown almost black. slight bit of red. Head was half a thumb. It was a mocha in color. Very little to no lacing and disappears very quickly.

S - Chocolaty and mocha seems very sweet. A bit of alcohol too.

T - A bit of roastly. Chocolate and sweet. A little fruity undertones.

M - Very smooth and a bit chewy. Nice carbonation.

D - Dangerously drinkable. Very sold beer all the way around. I am definitely heading to the store to pick up another tomorrow.

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Photo of Pehlman
3.89/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Honestly, I expected more from this beer. Not bad but I was hoping for holy grail-esque quality. The smell of the beer was mostly of the alcohol. The color was just like I like em, pitch black. It was aged approx. 1 year, but I still felt like the alcohol flavor was a bit over-powering. Maybe it gets milder with more aging.

The flavor was definately good. Very smooth, but a bit like spiked, BBQ-ed, slightly carbonated fig juice.

The #1 thing I would give this beer is its great mouthfeel. I've had plenty of imperial russians and porters that feel like I'm drinking a smokey, 55 degree coke. This beer has absolutely perfect carbonation.

I'm not meaning to sound like I hate this beer but I guess I'm just a little disappointed. I love Stone and I had high expectations for their version of one of my favorite styles of beer.

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Photo of bewley
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber "Limited Late Spring Release"

"Bogartski while you can" instructions that are printed on the lable and can be translated into: Quickly horde against all others. And horde you should as this is one special brew. Smells like a wholeshot (burnt rubber tires of a late 60's/early 70's muscle-car) laced with simple syrup and toffee and tastes like, well, it tastes dambed good! My fiancee says that "It's different and very heavy." I say that I like it, I like it a lot.

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Photo of dwvarner77
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Limited Early Summer 2005 Release"

The bottle says it pours like Siberian crude, and it does just that. Leaves a thin quarter inch of thick deep brown-crimson head that falls to keep a nice lace. Completely opaque, I can only sense the slightest hint of light about the periphery, if that.
Nose is thick with chocolate, with a background of vanilla and coffee, even a hint of something like coconut. Catch no alcohol in the nose. Looks like this will be dangerous....
Taste is thick, deep with coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Sweet and malty, slight hop balance present, and the alcohol only hints at you with a warm taste in the belly.
Incredibly smooth, the slightest hint of carbonation keeps it from appearing syrupy. A bit of a thick texture at the back of the tongue, but not a detriment.
Big, thick, and strong, full of flavor, and dangerous b/c the ABV hides itself well. Could hit this again and again.

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Photo of sellmeagod
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Oh indeed, this is a mighty brew that will have orcs cascading across your palate and conjure up images of mages brewing crazy potions, only a few sips in.

Opaque. Mysterious. Insane pour.

Smells like a bunch of sweets, a bunch of bitters, a bunch of fruits.

Each sip is bizarrely different from the last, depending on what you want to notice. Each is delicious. Easily the most tastes in a single sip of any brew I have ever had.

It's thick and it's 10.5, so you aren't drinking these all night. But boy does each wild taste make you want to. Rampage through the cathedrals with one of these to feel like a real gargoyle.

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Photo of DaveGood
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I believe I have found my favorite Stout! I actually picked up 2 cases of this beer after my first sampling. It is the Limited Early Summer 2004 release.

The beer poured a rich dark black with a nice thick tan head that eventually left a nice ring around the glass for the duration of the tasting.

The aroma can best be characterized as roasted coffee with a hint of molasses.

The taste started with a very rich malt flavor that tasted like a combination of roasted coffee, caramel, and cocoa. It was balanced quite nicely by a hop-filled bitterness on the back end that lingered for a couple of seconds.

Mouthfeel is excellent with very slight carbonation and a very smooth feel.

The drinkability is exceptionally high, given the high ABV%. I could easily sit back and enjoy a couple of these in a session.

Kudos to Stone Brewing on another impressive brew! They just never seem to fail to impress with anything that I have tried from them!

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Photo of sdmvd6
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

A - Pours black and viscous with about a finger of tan head which disappears rapidly. Little lace is left as the beer is drank.

S - A lot of coffee in the nose along with the usual roasted malt. A good amount of alcohol definitely comes forward with this.

T - This is an extremely smooth imperial stout. There is a lot of coffee up front followed by a touch of bittersweet chocolate and then definite roasted malt. [Edit]: Dark fruit becomes noticeable just before the finish. Coffee and roasted malt is apparent in the finish along with some booziness. The roasty flavors mask the alcohol content extremely well.

M - Thick and creamy with moderate carbonation. Exceptionally smooth for the style.

O - Stone offers a great example of an RIS with this brew. I would highly recommend it to anyone that is a fan of the style. The smoothness can't be overstated, and the balance of flavors along with that make for a wonderfully drinkable imperial stout.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,353 ratings.
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