Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
2,715 Reviews
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States | website

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:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,715 | Ratings: 8,265
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.

 681 characters

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!

 436 characters

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.

 718 characters

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.

 1,642 characters

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.

 1,414 characters

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.

 971 characters

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!

 657 characters

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.

 2,843 characters

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

Poured into a pint glass from brown bottle. Had a nice black as tar color to it with a thick mocha head that dissipated slowly. Real inviting and just gorgeous color

The smell was of sweet caramel and barley could pick up the alcohol but despite the abv was not a prominent factor.

the taste was great burnt toast and roasted malts just like you would expect in an imperial. What blew me away was the vanilla and sweetness i could catch a hint of this brew is done superbly.

The mouthfeel was heavy like a brick and had a nice balance of carbonation in there to just enough to make you want to go back for more.

Couldnt handle more than two or three of these but wouldnt need to cause you are feeling great after the first and even more so after the second what a great beer to just take your time and enjoy.

 814 characters

Photo of ChaseT
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner glass.

Appearance: Excellent. Black with a brown head that stays around and coats the glass.

Smell: Huge amount of roastiness with hops hiding in the background.

Taste: The hops and roasted malts hit you with a one-two punch.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy goodness.

Overall: Quite an interesting take on the RIS style. Roasted malts backed with a huge amount of hops.

 400 characters

Photo of Son_of_Patrick
4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2014 release.

Appearance was pitch black; no ruby notes when held up to the light.
I didn't get a ton of smell from this brew, perhaps partially to do with the fact that it was served a bit too cold (Barley's Taproom in Maryville, TN insists on serving everything in a frosted glass).

Taste was what I expect from a RIS: rich and full with notes of chocolate. I was surprised at the lack of roastiness, and this beer had a strong sweetness to my taste which I'm not sure I liked.

Mouthfeel wasn't über thick for an RIS, but still substantial. Moderate carbonation, which I was pleased with.

Overall the beer was surprisingly wine-like due to the aforementioned sweetness and the high abv. I must note that I had this after drinking a pint of Red Brick Hoplanta, so that may have affected my taste buds. Ultimately a brew worth seeking out and one I would definitely like to try again.

 895 characters

Photo of lynx1245
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Spring 2008 release opened in the middle of December.

Appearance: This is almost as black as they come. Held it right next to a 100W light bulb and still couldn't see any hint of light through it. Crazy. However, the awesome dark tan head disappeared way too quickly and left very little lacing.

Smell: Heavy coffee and chocolate aroma. Kind of like a mocha. My buddy seems to think it smells like red wine but I don't smell that so much.

Taste: Big roasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate. It has a little bite to it towards the end of the sip. Starts to taste much better as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Not much carbonation but very dry finish. Really invites you to drink more. The high alcohol isn't very noticeable.

Drinkability: One of the more drinkable RISs I've had. Not too robust and the 10.8% alcohol is hidden nicely. I think it would go great with some food.

 871 characters

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.

 669 characters

Photo of mkorpal
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Spring 2010 bomber poured into my well traveled New Belgium sniffer on Oct. 20th while watching The Professional. It seemed like a good match there. 7.99 for the bottle seemed like a good investment.

Pours a jet black, with no hint of clear or red or anything. Thin wispy head, dark tan, hangs on top. Not a ton of head with this beer. But thats ok.

Nice nose of burnt malts, much like coffee, and some nice fruity esters. Also some hints of chocolate. The nose is quite forward, and it doesn't take much to pick it up. I like that, some stouts seem really light on the nose. This one is right there in your face.

Taste is huge on the coffee and chocolate mix. The esters take a backseat in the taste, just giving a little fruity mix to the beer.

Mouthfeel coats your tongue sweet syrupy goodness. it is a bit heavier than it could be, but it is within acceptable range of an Impy Stout.

Drinkable, well, it's nothing to guzzle down, thats for sure, and the booze can start to get you a bit loopy by the end.

The taste gets even better as it warms. Awesome brew, can drink this any time. I suggest picking up a case when it becomes available.

 1,152 characters

Photo of SerieDNo3
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams sensory glass (I really dig the 12 oz. bottling...makes this a lot more accessible)

A: Liquid darkness. A hard pour yielded a finger of dark brown head that dissipated into a ring around the glass. Lots of lacing. Light can't get through the beer; it's solid black.

S: Roasted coffee with a hint of chocolate and cherries.

T: Notes of espresso and dark chocolate, with an almost imperceptible alcohol burn. The burn gets more pronounced as the beer warms, but this is quite pleasant on a cold winter day.

M: Silky smooth, with a bit of an alcohol burn

D: I'm surprised this is above 10%. It hides the alcohol pretty well. Considering that it's a pretty big beer, it goes down quite smoothly.

I'd been meaning to give this one another shot, and I'm glad I did. The last time I had it was last April, and it really wasn't proper RIS weather. This is a wonderful beer for a cold winter evening. Another outstanding effort from Stone.

 977 characters

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

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber. Have had the chance to try a 2007 on tap. Man, yummy. Is that still a word? Yummy.

A - Pours solid black, with thin brown head

S - Strong coffee-chocolate...mocha, with some spiciness that just kicked-ass.

T - Bold and chocolate with some spice and mocha hint. Strong coffee was present.

M - Went down great and is a full body beer.

O - Overall can't wait to do a vertical from '05 to present.

Serving type: bottle

 452 characters

Photo of mobyviacheslov
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Oil. I poured a small amount into a balloon glass and tried to tilt it to an ultrathin amount, and still, no amount of light will show through. This is black. A disappointingly thin, chocolate milk colored head formed, though this could have been the fault of my pour.
S - Bitter dark chocolate, cinnamon, vegetables (broccoli, in a good way?), slightly smoky, woody, earthy, everything a IMP Ruski should smell like.
T - Most of the nose comes through on the tongue. Delicious, ultra-dark chocolate bitterness. A decent, almost umami undertone of dirt/shrooms. A little smoke/smoked meat as well. There is a slightly sweet malt in the background, but very subdued. Very true to the style, pleasingly not sweet stout. Very bold.
M - Thick and creamy, yet a fair amount of bubbles, helping the bitterness play on the tongue. Not gummy at all.
D - This is very thick, very heavy, and very bold. The 10.5% certainly isn't hidden, but it isn't overpowering either. That being said, this is an after-dinner, or with food, slowww drinker.

 1,036 characters

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'.

 289 characters

Photo of bonesTdog
4.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The 2011 vintage - Thick, black and rich in the glass. Anise is the predominant flavor and aroma right up front. Overwhelms the coffee, chocolate, light roast and fruit in my opinion. Keeps your interest but not my personal favorite.

 235 characters

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

2015 Classic Release

Wonderful flavour. Thick on the tongue. Very nice. Every sip reminds me this is the appropriate rating. I would recommend this to stout lovers. Very nice. You won't be disappointed.

 204 characters

Photo of ASymon13
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 release.

This beers pours a thick viscous black with a nice fluffy chocolate head to it that leaves some decent lacing as the head recedes. Not even a shimmer of light gets through it. Awesome. There is a lot of dark chocolate in the nose with some very solid smokey roast thrown in. The nose really is huge, with those two notes dominating. The alcohol is hardly even noticable, and I really can't catch any hops to it.

The first sip is dominated by those two flavors; chocolate and roastiness. My two favorite flavors common to the style. There is some decent hop bitterness but it works well, complementing the malts and not overpowering them at all. There is no underlying sweetness to it like some RIS's, so it has a nice dry finish. The alcohol is noticable but it also complements everything nicely. The body is thick and creamy and the carbonation works perfectly for the style.

While this is less complex than many RIS's I've had, that does not detract anything from it. The flavors blend together so beautifully that it is easily one of my very favorites.

 1,074 characters

Photo of greenbeaner
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Leave it to Stone to brew an RIS with some balls and then some!

Rich and dark dark brown, this one pours a thick two-finger head, dark tan and speckled with dark bubbles....Notice how I keep using the word's because it is. Very good looking beer.

Smells of vanilla, sweet chocolate maltiness and hops...Scent is about the only thing subtle about this beer.

Tastes of vanilla, with a strong chocolate flavor up front, malt, spice, slightest hint of cinnamon maybe? Finishes with a strong hoppy bitterness and a strong burn of alcohol...yessss....

Fells great in the mouth, thick, creamy, sticky and lingering. A very chewy beer. Basically this one is dinner in a bottle, although while drinking it I've found it to go fantastic with some smoked honey ham. Well balanced all throughout.

This is a very tasty beer indeed. An exceptional RIS with the boldness one can expect from Stone. Drinkability is only limited by it's strength, which personally I chose to fully embrace!

 998 characters

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

06 on tap at the brewery.
The beer that revitalized my desire to drink beer. I was considering going on a long term beer break until I went to the brewery and had this world class beer. I had the 08 spring version out of a bottle and it was not half as good. This masterpiece was meant for cellaring. The oaked arrogant bastard was amazing, but this blew me away.
Revels in the darkest shade of black. The aromas can't be contained. The flavors are so complex I can't begin to identify them. The basic ones I taste are velvety chocolate, coffee, and fruity notes. The 10.8 has to be a misprint since I'm pretty sure I ordered a beer and not a heavenly chocolate shake. There's a thick, endless stickiness that coats the mouth.
Thank you stone for making me a believer.

 770 characters

Photo of mikeal1917
2.74/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I spotted this number at my local Beer store.

Appearance: Amazing dark chocolately brown color with small head

Smell: Quick pungent, with a chocolate definitely pronounced initially

Taste: Unless your a fan of strong brews, think beer is quite bitter, and the chocolate doesn't match it very well in my opinion, and that was gently chilling it as the guy at the store advised.

Mouthfeel: thick brew rolls down your palette, feel a lot like milk, nice and smooth

Drinkability: Both the price and thickness will keep this beer as a once in awhile beer in small amounts

given the average of the beer, I'll probably end up trying it again just to be sure, but as of now not that impressed

 691 characters

Photo of elvisnj
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber with classic Stone gargoyle etched on the bottle, into my Duvel tulip chalice.

Looks great coming out. Nice brown head and silky black brew. Takes a bit to calm down for drinking.

Mouth feel is great. Its rich and silky and syrupy.

Roasted dark chocolate malts work well with the mouth feel. Bitter hops at the front, with nutty coffee hint with smokey vanilla, chicory, and a smoothly and ultimately dry finish.

I could only taste a little bit of the 10.5% alcohol but after finishing the bottle, I am positive it was in there.

Awesome RIS. Stone is still spot on.

 596 characters

Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,265 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!