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Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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2,731 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 2,731 | Ratings: 8,308
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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Photo of RnRManifesto
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 release. Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a stout glass.

Pours black as can be with a little bit of brown around the edges if you hold it up to the light. About 1/2" of light brown/tan head that goes away very quickly and doesn't leave any lacing to speak of.

Smells of roastiness, some dark chocolate, black licorice, vanilla, tobacco, brown sugar, molasses and maybe a bit of dark fruit. Some alcohol is also present in the smell, not surprising for a beer at 10.5%ABV.

Somewhat sweet on the front of the tongue, but that gives way to a burnt, roasted bitterness. Dark chocolate. Burnt toast. Coffee. The alcohol makes it self known as well. Just enough sweetness to balance out the bitterness.

Mouthfeel somewhat thinner than I anticipated, but not thin by any means. Has a warming quality from the alcohol presence.

Overall a fine Imperial Russian Stout. Stone is pretty consistent in making great beers, this is no exception.

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

This dark beauty poors dark and thick consistent with the style. It has a slight tan head with nice lacing.

Its aroma is filled with alcohol, dark chocolate, and coffee notes. Mouthfeel is full as this high gravity drink delivers a powerful yet surprisingly smooth punch given its high ABV. Taste is outstanding and by far the best I have encountered in this style.

Overall this rates highly with exceptional drinkability. Due to its heavy hitting nature resulting in a slow sipping intake, I suggest a nice cigar accompany this one to bring out the best in both. Take the two in on the back porch with a friend and a debate of philosophy, theology, and politics and you have a glorious night...just remember that drinking this Russian doesn't mean that you aren't a good red blooded American even if commy's come up in the debate.

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Photo of dmbfrat420beers
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation - 20004 22 oz. bomber with plenty of hilarious jewels to grace their bottle.

Appearance - Very dark with ruby red tint that runs along the edge. First glass I poured (perhaps a bit too lightly) lacked any decent head. The second was much better with a small, albeit tasteful dark tan head that left a nice, light lacing on the glass, but all head dissipates pretty early on - I wonder if this bottle was a bit off, will have to try some others to be sure.

Smell - Seems like too much alcohol on the nose. Otherwise, a bit of grassy hops, a bunch of roasted malts, and something that just sort of clears the sinuses. It's strong for sure, but not as great as its flavor, in my opinion

Mouthfeel - For me, this defines a chewy, full-bodied feel. Very low on the carbonation, but fine otherwise

Taste - there is just so much going on here and I can see why it gets such high ratings. Where to start...Lightly sweet malts start it out in combo with some of the grassier hop taste. Gives way to a delightful roasted malt flavor that lingers for a long time. So interesting because even though the roasted flavor is so strong, you can always detect a strong west coast hoppy bitterness at the back of the mouth and on the lips. A very interesting balance. Also noticed a strong currant taste with a dose of alcohol on the palate and warming the throat. Ends with the aforementioned roasted maltiness and some spicy flavors to top it off. It is hard to do justice to the complexity of this beer.

Drinkability - I haven't had trouble finishing this beer, but it was slow process and would dread doing 2 in a row. While I think this is amazing in terms of flavor and craftsmanship, it is no session beer.

Conclusion - Quite an interesting brew to try and I look forward to several more. Something to have over or after a meal with friends, but too heavy in alcohol and flavor to consume in large quanties. Make sure you read the bottle, komrads.

Thanks to AleOha for the bottles.

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

2008 and 2009 back to back in Aug. 2009

Pours black with no transparency and a brown fizzy head that quickly goes away. Smell is as expected with a nice roasted smell with hints of coffee and chocolate.

Taste for 2008. Much more mellowed out than the 2009. Very smooth with no alcohol burn. It has definitely lost some taste with the age on it, but has gained a smoothness that makes it much easier to drink.

Taste for 2009. This is awesome! Everything(roasted malts, hops, chocolate and coffee tastes) is very present. This has a lot going on fresh, what a RIS should taste like IMO.

Mouthfeel is typical for a bigger stout I would say, meaning there is a sticky, lingering body to it rather than a crisp, watery feeling. A great beer all around.

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

Pours black and viscous with a nice dark brown head. Nice head retention with good lacing.

Smells of chocolate, coffee and malt.

Strong black coffee, bittersweet chocolate and malt.

Excellent viscous mouthfeel.

This is really an excellent, well-balanced tasty stout. Nothing really stands out on its own but it really is very smooth and drinkable.

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Photo of drnknmnky
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

split a 22 with a friend of the 07 release.

A - pours thick black, nice head 2 fingers high.

S - Exceptional smell. Roasted, coffee, caramel, intense and wonderful is every way.

T - caramel, coffee, malty, roasted barley, alcohol covered well.

M - Wonderful mouthfeel

D - amazing could drink this all day. One of my favorite beers

One of my favorites. could drink this anytime. I wish it could have this come of my tap instead of water

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

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

Appearance: Black viscous and impenetrable this liquid slowly releases bubbles of carbonation that make their journey up through the oil like substance to eventually reach the top to create a buttery tan head. The head retreats slowly to reveal a lackluster black abyss. Rings of chocolate brown coat the sides of the glass and ever so slowly lacing settles back down the sides of the glass to rejoin the delicious black liquid waiting for me.

Smell: Becoming more aromatic as this brew warms up I detect large amounts of roast barley, dark malts, butter cream, a hint of vanilla, and hops come through on the end. Surprisingly for a 10%+ abv there is very little alcohol presence in the nose.

Taste: Dark and viscous this beer is packed with flavour from start to finish. Malt, roasted thick viscous malt filled with tons of chocolate, anise, and a bitter hop presence that gives you a kick in the mouth for a finish. Not as sweet as the nose would have let me to believe but a hint of vanilla and bitter sweet butter cream make an appearance giving nice contrast to the immense malt and bitter hop flavours. The alcohol of this beer is subtle and after half of the bottle you are reminded of its presence. All elements of this beer work together in wonderful harmony and contrast to bring out every flavour in this rich and incredibly "stout" beer.

Mouthful: The mouth is fantastic, creamy and smooth; I especially love the silky feel of this brew is it comes closer to room temperature and more poignant. The sheer viscosity of this beer would lead me to believe I was drinking pure maple syrup.

Drinkability: I would like to thank Stone for creating such a magnificent full-bodied brew in the style of an Russian Imperial Stout, Stone is known for making first-rate products and this is no exception. This afternoon I ventured into the almost three feet of snow outside to build an igloo and this is the perfect beer to come in and warm up to. In fact once I finish this review I am going to give this beer a field test by taking it into the igloo to finish what I have left.

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

I Bought my bottle for 3.49. And it looks like a good one. I like how Stone etches their labels. It costs alot more than paper labels. For a paper label it would be a penny. For a bomber etched like a shakespeare stout. It cost a whole 25 cents. Thats alot considering the quantity of the bottles going through the line.

Poured into a pint.

A- Black but with more head than i thought would be in there. Impressive brown head.

S- A huge roasted coffee smell along with dark.

T- Dark chocolates, and coffee flavor but still sort of sweet.

M- coats the mouth extremely well.

D- easy but not after the to many

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Photo of XBeerBellyT
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Had one aged for about 6 years. It was pretty amazing. All booze was settled. Had tons of chocolate and fudge flavors up front with little bitterness to finish. Mouth feel was rich and creamy, something I'd expect for something cellared that long. Great beer, will try one that is 'fresh'.

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Photo of Nay
4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fantastic big stout. Not syrupy big, so I had a couple, but a couple is the max for this lightweight. Nice West-Coast bitterness balances what must be a fair amount of unfermentables hidden in there. Big mouthfeel, but not so much that it needs to be undercarbonated.

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Photo of AndIWantYou
3.86/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, the head on this beer is darker than most beers I'm drinking these days. Beautiful chocolate brown head and dark, almost syrupy-pouring beer. The taste isn't syrupy, though, as the carbonation cuts through nicely. The body in this beer reminds me of Double Bastard, but the flavor is (of course) a more chocolatey, coffee taste. I don't get the "dark fruits" that a RIS is supposed to contain, but I think my tongue (or my brain?) is less sensitive to the fruity esters that beers contain. This beer is probably too over-the-top for an August evening such as right now, but I think I'll be picking up another of these in the winter!

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Photo of dwarvenspirits
2.45/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

This was the 2005 limited early summer release editon of this beer.

KAA-POW! That's the first thing that came to my mind, then "WOW!" This beer is a one beer per night drink. Definitely sip this monster beer because it's so thick and syrupy that you can only sip it. The worst part about this beer was the overpowering taste of alcohol. You can smell it when you pour it when you drink it, even when it's just sitting there. This definitely needs another year or two to age just to mellow out the alcohol in it. The color is rich and black and there is a roasted smell with the complements of coffee. The flavor is chocolate, at least what I could tell throught the hot alcohol flavor. Drinking this beer is like putting vodka in a stout and ruining the flavors of the stout. And I also think this definitely needs more hops added to it for bitterness just to balance out the sweet malty taste of it and the incredible alcohol flavor. I was really disappointed with this beer. The Stone Ruination IPA was fantastic but this RIS is horrible.

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

Spring 2009 bomber. Pours dark black color with a chocolate milk colored head. Just beautiful. I love imperial stouts. Anyways, Stone's IRS smells very sweet, of chocolate, coffee, and malts malts malts. The taste is perfect. This might be the best tasting beer I've had. Even more so than KBS. Tastes so damn smooth, and of coffee, chocolate, toffee, candy, it's very sweet in a good RIS way! So damn delicious, a bomber is not hard to kill. Mouthfeel is near pefect as well, nothing bad to say about this beer. It's very smooth. The alcohol is hidden extremely well. Drinkability.. lets just say I'm going to pick up many bottles of this whenever I go out next. Fucking loved it.

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

served on tap at barcarde in brooklyn.

a. lovely dark black, looks very thick, with an everlasting rich brown head.

s. smells of malty goodness and chocolate coffee bitter sweeteness. tempting.

t. really dark and thick chocolate notes and coffee notes. overall really malty and good with a nice balanced bitterness.

m. mouthfeel is amazing, very thick and rich, but not overpowering.

d. i could drink this all night. thanks stone!

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Photo of Bleedingshrimp
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a tulip. This brew poured the darkest black wherein no light permeated. Nice chocoalte milkshake head that fades quick but leaves the tiniest layer throughout. Smells strong of alcohol and cinnamon with notes of plum and pomegranate. Taste is sweet with notes of coffee. The gentle hops play off the moderate vinous taste. Alcohol is clearly present but is overwhelmed by a nice complexity. As it warms, green apple and vanilla notes make their prescence known. A giant among beers. Mouthfeel is chewy and creamy. Drinkability is hindered because the alcohol does play prominently in taste. Overall, a big complex beer that leaves you with a warmth and a sense of what went into its creation.

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Photo of Smittysguinness
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A HUGE thanks to BA "smchnsgy" for getting me the 05 and 04 version of this beer. This particular rating will be for the 05 version. I may revise it for the 04 version when I crack it open...which speaking of crack....this beer *must* be about as addictive.

Translucent black bottle with the Stone Gargoyle, 2005 limited edition on the bottom, with all sorts of cute references to Czarist Russia hidden in spots around the bottle. Makes for interesting reading while enjoying this beer.

Then the taste. I drank. It was hard not to swallow tears at the same time. The taste was so complex, and literally seemed to change as the beer grew warmer. Some hops to it, mostly

It poured into the glass with the consistency, speed and appearance of motor oil (no kidding). Thick and viscous, with a thin red-brown head that dissipated quickly. The beer did, however, leave a decent lacing around the glass.

I smelled it. I wept a little. I smelled dried fruit, but on the heavier side like dried cranberrys or raisins. Huge toasted malts, like dark rye toast.

As I tasted it, it was hard not to drink tears at the same time. Beautiful. Sweet hops up front, dark chocolate bitterness, a bit of anise seed. As it warmed, some of the dried fruit character became more apparent, as did the bitter dark chocolate become enhanced. So huge and complex.

This is definitely a full bodied beer, about as thick and chewy as I can remember in a long time. Exquisitely drinkable, but really only one at a time. Amazing beer.

Can't wait to see how the "bottle konditioned (nice touch with the 'k,' Stone!)" 2004 version tastes. I may pass out.

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Photo of Mazeraski
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A 22 oz. bomber with "Limited Spring 2008 Release" written on it poured into a Middle Ages imperial pint.

A - Pours a complete jet black color with a thick, frothy dark tan head that dissipates rather slowly, leaving a slight sticky lacing clinging to the glass.

S - Hits the nose with large roasted malt and coffee notes accompanied by hints of chocolate, caramel, vanilla and a tad bit of cinnamon.

T - An incredible combination of big roasted malt, oaky vanilla, dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, molasses and a slight twinge from the combo of what little hops are present and the alcohol, leaving the brew with a warming, roasted thickness on the palate after the sip. The roasted malt, chocolate and coffee aspects become more pronounced as it warms (along with the oaky character).

MF - Full-bodied with a bit of a lower amount of carbonation. Amazingly smooth, creamy and chewy all at the same time.

D - Very drinkable taste-wise, although it suffers a bit from how filling it is as well as the higher ABV.

Notes - An amazing beer that I was skeptical of due to all of the hype. However, despite this I would say that it is hands down one of the best RIS's I have had the pleasure of sampling. Incredibly smooth and creamy with a spectrum of flavors on display that would make anyone who brews an RIS jealous. Absolutely excellent. Also, paired well with a small piece of dark chocolate that I had.

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Photo of AVDeuph
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the Spring 2009 distribution...I'm excited to review this beer because it has been a while since I've had this and I know my tastes have changed significantly.

A: Blackish-Black. One finger mocha-colored head that was relatively short-lived.

S: Coffee, dark malts, and most pervasively, chocolate aromas. Very slight background of alcohol.

T: Dark chocolate (and possibly some even darker fruits?). Alcohol warms just a little bit, it's a good feeling. Black-coffee-bitter finish.

M: Nice and heavy, a soft bed of carbonation that really feels more like a general liveliness than anything else.

D: Well, I mean it's certainly tasty...flavors are robust enough to slow down the drinking process, so it's not like you are going to specifically want another one right away. Don't confuse that with the beer having low drinkability, it's just that I'm going to take my time and enjoy it.

This beer gets great reviews for a reason. A must-try for RIS lovers.

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Photo of LilMatrix
3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz Limited 2008 Release

A - The darkness that pours from the bottle lets zero light through and the thin head and lacing that forms does not stay for long.

S - Roasty aroma... woody and subtle fruity sweetness with light alcohol.

T - Dark Chocolate, coffee, slightly sweet and a little bit of the back of the throat astringency that my palate picks up on some stouts. Tastes better as it warms to room temp and as you drink.

M - Viscous and coats the mouth with low carbonation; reminiscent of a robust coffee.

D - ABV is hidden very well and I can imagine sipping this for quite a while... dangerous.

A very solid IRS and a very yummy beer indeed!

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Photo of johnmichael712
4.78/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic glass. Bottle lists this beer as the spring 2008 release, making this bad boy just about one year old. This beer pours the darkest of blacks with a gorgeous dark brown head that is about two fingers in size. The head is soft and pillowy, and looks to be very sticky, which it is. A small amount of lace clings to my glass as I drink.

Smell: The nose of this beer is intensely aromatic, and is dominated by aromas of dark bittersweet chocolate, roasted black and chocolate malts, and coffee. There are also hints of licorice, blackstrap molasses, and a little bit of alcohol. I'm not sure if there isn't much hop presence in the nose because this beer is a year old or because Stone designed the beer that way, but at 90+ IBU's I have a feeling they'll be showing up in the taste even though they forgot to come to this particular party.

Taste: After the first sip all I can say is "wow", and it's going to take me a while to try and put this much complexity and flavor into words, but I'm going to give it the old college try. This beer starts off very sweet with an absolutely phenomenal amount of chocolate and malt flavor. As in the aroma there are hints of molasses and coffee, but they've given most of their elbow room to the chocolate and dark roasted malts. The beer remains sweet throughout this interplay of flavors, and finishes with a strong hop presence and a good amount of alcohol taste. The finish is also fairly dry, but not cloying, and makes for one hell of a delicious beer.

Mouthfeel: It's rare to find a beer that really achieves the mouthfeel I desire, but Stone Imperial Russian Stout has managed to do so. A heavenly smooth and luxurious brew, this beer also has an exceptionally full-body and a chewy, malty feel on the tongue. There is little to no carbonation to speak of. This is definitely one of the thickest stouts I've ever had, and only North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout comes to mind as being thicker.

Drinkability: This is definitely a sipper if there ever were one. Despite how delicious it is and how thick and smooth, the 10.8% alcohol could make for some pretty bad decisions down the road if one isn't careful.

Notes: Overall I was superbly impressed with this beer, and I'd love to pick up a few of them fresh to see how they compare to this year-old example. I'm assuming that, considering my tastes run less toward the hoppy end of the spectrum, I won't appreciate them as much as I did this beer, but I'm sure it will be delicious nonetheless. Stone's Imperial Russian Stout is an exceptional stout and an exceptional beer, and is one of the finest brews that money can buy. It's a bit hoppier than other stouts on the market, but if you're a hophead looking for a good stout, this beer may just be the love of your life.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,308 ratings.
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